46 minutes | Mar 31, 2021
Using Automation to Grow your eCommerce Business (E161)
Sam Ovett Co-Founder of Mobile Pocket Office Notes: 5 buckets Attract Convert Fulfill Delight Refer Bio: Sam Ovett is the Founder of Mobile Pocket Office. Sam is a professional guide turned automation mega nerd, Mobile Pocket Office is leading the way to help new and established businesses augment their human and technological resources to leverage growth and streamline productivity. As a previous professional whitewater kayaker and guide Sam has translated his experience navigating Class V whitewater and mitigating life threatening risks and hazards into the business world. He leads a team of 15 to a profitable bottom line over $1M ARR. Sponsors: Spark Shipping Links: https://mobilepocketoffice.com Transcript: Charles(00:00): In this episode of the business. E-Commerce I talk with Sam Ovett about using automation to grow your e-commerce business. This is a business of e-commerce episode, 161. [inaudible] Welcome to the business of e-commerce the show that helps eCommerce retailers start launch and grow their e-commerce business. I’m your host, Chelsea [inaudible]. And I’m gonna tell you what Sam Ovett, Sam is the co-founder mobile pocket office, where they help businesses grow and streamline using automation. I asked Sam on the show today, talk about using automation to grow your e-commerce business. He goes through a five-part framework. They’re really segments, where should we auto using automation, some of the best places. And he kind of has a nice nice way of thinking about it in this interview. As you know, I love talking about automation. So I get, you know, don’t, it’s not often I get to geek out with someone on the same topic. So I had fun talking to Sam Herr, and I think I think this would be good to listen to, and it gets you thinking about where are some places in your business. You can start adding some automation to really improve the customer experience, not just standard chat bots and that sort of thing that take away from experience to really enhance the experiences, what Sam’s in here for. So let’s get into the show and listen to what he has to say, Hey Sam, how are you doing today? Sam (01:28): Good. I’m excited to be here. I’m hoping we can share some stuff that people can dig into and use. Charles(01:33): Yeah. I’m excited to dig out about some automation. This is kind of my thing too. So I saw that and I was like, Oh, let’s let’s chat about this. So yeah. What are you guys? So mobile pocket office just real quick. You guys help folks automate, is it more on the marketing side typically or Sam (01:53): Yeah, so we help people automate their marketing and sales customer journey. That’s our core focus and then that’s where it starts. So we, the, the big picture view of how we work with people is we look at a business that has a lot of manual steps. Usually people are overwhelmed and they’re deciding whether or not to hire more people or to invest in some technology. And then that’s usually where the limitations are as well. What do we do? How do we set this up? How do we think about this? So we do a, an engagement with people where we actually like, think about and consult on what is the journey that you want somebody to have. And then from there it’s process, and then understanding from the process, what of that can be automated and taken off your plate to create a better customer journey, to follow up with people longer, all those kinds of things. And we can get into the details, but that’s the big picture. And then we actually have helped people. We, you know, we do it, we implement it for them. Charles(02:50): Yeah. I mean that whole customer journey, right? Like from when somebody first engaged with the brand to, you know, after the purchase, post-purchase all the way down to follow. There’s Charles (03:00): A lot there. And if you’re not, if you’re not automating it, it’s very easy to go off the rails. Right. Like it’s very easy. Yeah. You can have a great experience. One day someone else’s, it’s like, there’s all these things and like that Sam (03:12): And consistent. I think that’s the word, the word. Charles (03:16): And having that consistency, then you start being able to dial it in and say, okay, like when should we fall off? Okay. Is it, should it be three days? Should it be five? Like, and you get to, if you run enough of those tests, you get to really start. I like automation. So Sam (03:31): No, that’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And, and we break it up into buckets cause it’s like, well, how do I think about this? So that’s, I think the hardest thing for people is how do you think about automation? It relative to your business? How do you guys, you know, there’s clear think about that with the different movements. There’s clear things that come to mind like, Oh, if I could automate this, that would save me a bunch of time, but then there’s other aspects of it that people just completely don’t even think about. And so we break it up into, into five buckets that work for any industry or business. And so you have attract, right? You have to attract new business. That’s whatever you’re doing to get the word out, to get people aware that you exist. That’s generally the hardest part to automate and not always fully automateable, then there’s convert. Sam (04:18): Right? So you’ve got to from attract, you’ve got to convert that interest into what I just said is leads in sales, right? And ultimately you have to convert it into sales. Otherwise you don’t have a business. And so that part has a huge opportunity for automation and dialing in, like you said, and there are things that you can do with automation that you would really struggle to do. If not impossible to do, if you did it all manually, right. Especially if you have any kind of volume, if it’s small, maybe you can do it, but with any kind of volume, it just physically wouldn’t be able to keep up with the journey that you’re trying to create for people. And I think this is automation that we’ve all experienced, but we don’t necessarily know how to build it and how to think about it. Then you have fulfill, right. And that’s kind of where you start to come in. So a tool like yours with spark shipping is like, you have to fulfill whatever you promised in that marketing and that attract and convert stage, right. They bought something. Now you’ve got to fulfill it. Sam (05:22): There’s a lot of opportunity for automation there. And those are usually the obvious manual processes that are the backend automation that just bog you down. But they’re not the ones that make you money. They’re the ones you have to do to just not fail on your promise or whatever somebody bought. And then from there, you’ve got a delight, right? So most people just stop it fulfill. Maybe they send like one email or they send the order notification. And then they kind of forget about people. There’s a huge opportunity once someone’s bought from you and trust you to delight them, which can take a lot of different forms. But ultimately it’s the opportunity to sell them more stuff that gives them more value out of whatever it is. That’s where you make money at it, right in that stage. And the other thing is like, it’s a great opportunity to connect with the customer for the next stage, which is referred. Sam (06:23): So like you’ve sold something, they’re happy. They got it. Whether you delighted them or not, they’re happy with whatever they bought. If your product is good, if it’s not, then that’ll take care of itself in a matter of a couple of months. And like, you’ll be out of business, you know, but if it’s good, it’s going to figure it out. People are excited about it. And they want to refer people, especially in the e-commerce, right? Like that’s a very natural space for a referral. Some industries don’t have as much natural opportunity for referral, but e-commerce does when me bought something, they’re excited about it. I think there’s a great opportunity for them to let their friends know. And so automating and making sure you have process around your referral process so that you’re asking for that new business is essentially free marketing that you can do to grow your brand. Sam (07:13): People have heard of net promoter scores. They’ve heard of all this stuff. And the bottom line is that if you’re not, don’t have a systematic way to get new business from people who’ve purchased from you. You’re missing out on a lot of opportunity. So you have attract, convert, fulfilled the light and refer. Those are the five stages. And so you can look at those and you can start to think, where am I feeling like I could improve? You know? And that’s the first step. And also what is sucking up my time that if I got rid of it and I did automate it, then I could think about the other pieces of it. Charles (07:50): Yeah. I think that the issue a lot of people run into is the first three. Right. or even, even just number three, even just fulfill, but definitely the first three, you kind of split, Sam (07:59): It feels like generally the most challenging, right? It’s like the most logistically challenging to figure out. Charles (08:03): Yeah. It’s just a lot of data and stuff and there’s a lot of work. Right? The other ones, especially the delight and refer, that’s kind of the big moneymaker, but a lot of people are so bogged down with the first, at least number three, some people just get bogged down with three and like, yeah. Sam (08:18): And if you could get attract and convert dialed in like even 50% awesome, you know, like that could be an enormous amount of business that now your fulfill stage is like super cumbersome. And you’re like, I don’t have time to think about delight and refer unless you solve that problem, Charles (08:36): Unless you solve that. And those lasts delight in referrals, that’s where you make all your money. Right. That’s what the business actually starts building. And kind of you read that, reach that growth phase versus yeah. You can just plateau because you can just, you know, like you said, hit a, you know, hit a hit a double right on the attracting converts, Charles(08:56): Stuck, getting stuck, getting some leads. And then all of a sudden you bogged down fulfillment and you’re now just in a hamster wheel and there’s no kind of getting out of it. Sam (09:04): Yep. And so the first step is, and that’s what we do with people. So people are usually in some kind of hamster wheel. I think that’s like a great, great way to describe it. And it does, it, it e-commerce is you know, there is the audience here, but it’s really anybody who’s going through those stages. And if you’re bogged down in your fulfillment process, whether it’s physical or a service, cause that can be equally time-consuming, but we’ll focus on e-commerce because that’s the, your audience is that you got to get yourself out of that hamster wheel of fulfillment. So you free up your time because your other alternative is just to hire people to do this. And so if that is profitable great, but oftentimes it becomes less and less profitable, very rapidly to hire people, to handle the fulfill stages at any of the stages for that matter. Sam (09:55): So if you can use a piece of technology to automate that, then that’s a fantastic thing. And now you’re freed up to think about, okay, to, you know, now you’ve got the other two sides of the five, right? So you’ve got the attracting convert because you can probably always make those better and bring your ad costs down. If you’re doing advertising or put out more organic content that is working for you to attract people and then work on that convert stage. So that of the leads that are coming in, you’re converting a higher volume of them. But then that like magic thing, like you talked about, which is after the fulfill, how do you increase the lifetime value of a customer, right? And that’s the light and then that’s refer, that’s how you like blow it up. Right? You spent that money, you got that customer, or you spent that time, you got that customer with organic information. Sam (10:46): Now you, you want to do the work. That’s going to get them to buy more and more of your stuff. That’s relevant to them and refer more and more of the people they know that would also be interested in whatever it is that you have. And like, that’s the moneymaker, that’s the magic. That’s how you blow these things up. And that’s why people love subscription based products because they sort of take care of themselves in that way, if people stick around on them. But I think the big thing here is that not everybody’s. And then probably the majority of e-commerce is not subscription based. Right? Those are the, those are the stories we all hear about. We love. And like, I enjoy what we get to work on this project, but there is an opportunity if you’re not subscription-based to like, do that very simple thing in someone’s mind, but harder to do with technology and let them know about the other things you offer or things that you have a partnership with, that you offer that you make money on, that you already have made the customer for somebody else. Sam (11:50): You know, let’s say you, I mean, can just use a super simple example of like something like a household. Good. Right. So let’s say you sell mugs on the internet, right? Well, you gotta put stuff in the mugs and that’s a subscription recurring product that goes in that mug. And maybe it’s a, like a really nice tea or coffee. And if you partner with a brand that you like, I’m sure they have an affiliate program, most good ones do. And you can recommend that to your customers through a story of you using it in an email automated as part of that journey, knowing that they bought a mug and not a bowl from you. Right. And so if you’ve got a mug, now you can be delighting them, helping them to get more value out of your mug. They’re more likely to refer people because they’re using their mug and people are seeing that on their Zuma. That’s a beautiful, you know, mug that I got that you have, where did you get that? Oh, I got it from this person. And then so on and so forth. And now you’re selling also greater lifetime value by doing a partnership, or you could have your own thing, right. That you’re using. Does that feel relevant? Charles (13:03): So you’re thinking something, so kind of some followup sequence of based on what you purchased now, let’s, let’s stop providing you some ways of using that thing. Right. So it’s the mug. Here’s some things you can do with that mug. It’s a camera has a photography course. Like basically here’s how to actually get use out of the product that you just purchased from us. Sam (13:25): That’s all it was down to. Yeah. It’s getting use out of it. And also the other thing is if you make something that has a lifespan, right. And you know that the lifespan of the product and it’s just like a, it’s a use cycle. Right. And it ends, I mean, this is a good example. If you’re in the car, automotive e-commerce business parts wear out, you know, that that person who bought that part likely in X amount of time on an average use is going to need a new part. Why don’t you be the one? Why don’t you set up automation that reminds them at that interval? And it could be three years out, which you’re not going to remember in your brain. You’re not, you know, good luck keeping track of it on a spreadsheet for all the people who bought this part. Like it’s impossible. It’s crazy to think of. You’re just thinking about your next new customer and marketing that you have to do. So if you also have automation in place to handle that, then three years down the line, or it could be six months or whatever that you cyclist EV you’re making maybe 50% of those sales again, through you versus that person going through the search process again, when someone else, you know, those kinds of things, Charles (14:36): The concept’s been around for years, right? When you think of your checkbook, right? You get to that, you know, you have 150 checks, you get to a hundred number, 135. And there’s that thing in there saying like, you should go order more checks, just fill this out, basically as an address, you just like fill out your information. They already have their checking, checking information, and we’ll just send you more checks. I’ve mentioned on the show before I have a little planner you know, a journal kind of journal out my business, the kind of business high-level tasks for the week. And I think there was two weeks left in it. It’s a weekly thing, two weeks left. And as the thing saying, you should probably go buy another one of these because you’re going to run out and it takes about two weeks to ship. Charles (15:14): So literally get to that one. And you’re like, Oh, okay. That’s one of my, and it’s actually a task plan. And so you’re like, Oh, my task for the week is go buy another planner. So there’s ways that that’s like the old school offline way of just like, you know, it’s a book, it’s a checkbook, just gem piece of paper. And they saying like, you should go do this again. But you’re saying, you know, now, okay, you purchase this product. You start, you can monitor usage, that sort of thing. And just, Hey, you know, you’re going to need to buy X kind of consumable. Why don’t you come over here? Just kind of remind a follow up reminder, sort of I’m Sam (15:45): Yeah. Follow up reminders. And that’s one of the biggest opportunities and, and one of the smartest opportunities to grow your business, you know, if you’ve got something that eventually needs to be replaced, like that planner is a great example. Checkbooks, great example. There’s I mean, the examples are just endless, right? Then you can, you can put the physical thing in there too. And you can, you could even track in your system. If someone bought one that had that in there, do we see a more recurring revenue off of the people who bought the one that had the note in there? Yep. And you can also follow up with them with an email and a text message. Hey, it’s been 120 days since you bought your planner. It’s only got 150, would you like to order another one? Yeah. Like I like to get it down to that level of like, wow, why are, you know, why aren’t I not doing that? Like, that’s the feeling that I want people to have. It’s like, why am I not doing that? It’s so easy in concept. You have to get the technology in place. You’ve got to design it, but it’s so easy and concept in terms of generating greater lifetime value of a customer that you’ve already done, the hard work of acquiring. Charles (16:55): And then I think when people hear automation and e-commerce, they think of it as like this bad thing, right? Like a chat bot that nobody wants to chat with a, you know, you know, support and have some like, you know, garbage that like no wants to like have an automated reply. Sam (17:09): Yeah. Bad automation. Automation is a category of that automation. Yeah. Charles (17:13): This is good automation where even though as a user, right. Like I know obviously the guy wrote that planet. Didn’t it like call me on the phone, but I don’t really want, I don’t want that either. I just want some reminders sent to me, like, you don’t have to buy another one, the checkbook, like, cause you get, you get to the end of the checkbook and you say, Hey, buy this again. I don’t remember. Like, I don’t know. I just want more, I just want more checks. I don’t like, I don’t want to search. I really don’t want to do anything. I just want checks to appear at my house. And like here’s some money. That’s right. Yeah. So that’s good automation where, when you’re the recipient of it, you actually just want the automated thing. You just want to basically say like, yeah, cool. Need that check a box. And it does the thing that you want at that moment. Sam (17:52): Yeah. And do the best you can to lower the friction, to actually make that repurchase, you know, don’t make people go through rigmarole. Charles (17:59): That’s a good example too, of technology. Right? Because this is something that you, if you had to account for every order that came through, if you had to kind of set a reminder and have someone in support, say, Hey, we’ll reach out to you. And 152 days, that’s going to go off the rails real quick Sam (18:16): And think about like how many people that, that doesn’t scale either. Yeah. Right. Hi, you’re now making a meal, you know, a hundred thousand, 200,000 orders a year of an item. Can someone reasonably send that many emails, you know, on a random schedule, along with all the other things they do? Yep. Probably not. You know? So that’s the other thing is like you get people in the journey where they’re ready to make that purchase again. And you’re not investing more human time that you have to pay for, to do it. You’re investing time and money into a system once. Then it’s set up, of course you should tweak it. You should monitor it. That’s where like tracking the effectiveness of things comes in. But, and there’s a whole kind of conversation on automation relative to that because a lot of people do their tracking very manually, which is kind of crazy. And also generally inaccurate too. Like there’s, you’re just gonna miss stuff. So, but if you want to talk about how can automation make you more money, that’s a way that automation can make you more money. Once someone’s made a purchase, find an, and here’s a simple exercise you can do. You can put a list together were five things that someone is going to naturally buy after they’ve bought what I just, what they just bought from me. And then you be the one to tell them about it using automation, Charles (19:40): The nice thing, like you said, you don’t even need to go on selling it necessarily. You can just say, Hey, you bought the mug, go buy the tea over here. He has a referral link. So it’s not even, Sam (19:49): That’s what I mean by like, you don’t have to do the work of building a tea business. You can just find some tea that you really like, and you can become a partner with and then recommend it to your customers. And so those five things don’t actually have to be five things that you procure yourself and make, because we live in a digital world where people have affiliate links and people are used to that. And you know, it’s kind of a dirty word, right? Like it can be kind of like a, Oh, I don’t want to be an affiliate, blah, blah, Hocking stuff. But the reality is if you present it as a way, like, Hey, we partnered with them. We really liked this stuff. We wanted to introduce it to you because we think it’s great. And it’s, it’s an equal value in quality to our product, right. That was to be a pretty boring mug. But then you have, for those not watching us holding the mug up in front of screen. Yeah. I’ve got like all these beautiful pottery bags. And of course I got this white one today, but bottom line is that if you take that, you can, you can massively increase the amount of revenue that you get per customer. And that does another thing that gives you the ability to then go back to the top of your funnel and spend more, to get that better customer. Charles (21:02): That’s the thing, because at some point you’re going to be competing against someone right next to you. And I forget who said this, but whoever can spend the most to acquire the customer wins, right? So it’s like spending more, being able to Simone, spend more, it’s a superpower, right? Sam (21:18): And how do you get that super power? You make more per each customer. So how do you make more per each customer? You find more things that are relevant to the purchase that they just made to offer them. And then you use automation to get that in front of them. And you can have a little campaign about this. You know, if we go down the route of the, the, the company that sells mugs, wanting to sell tea, you can have this whole automation about T you know, it’s a campaign that’s like this really cool, maybe five part story about the tea company, how you learned about it. Now you’re connecting people. Now you’re using the power of psychology and marketing to connect people and hopefully make more sales. You know, that’s where you have to see, is it working? Is it effective? But the bottom line is more communication about relevant products. Don’t worry if people are unsubscribed, I guess it’s always going to happen. But if you are getting interest and people are taking you up on those things, then continue down that path because now you have a greater lifetime value and people appreciate the communication. And then they’re more likely to refer you because you’re top of mind while they’re using that, would you say it’s more of it kind of plays into when you’re trying to say that? I think based on what we just talked about, that’s the light Charles (22:37): Dwight. Okay. So what will be an example for then when you start talking about it? Sam (22:39): So refer is a great example of refer is, you know, give 10, get 10 right dollars. Let’s say you give $10 to a friend. You get 10 to spend with us. That’s like straight up referral type of communication, especially in the e-commerce world. Right. You’re trying to get them to introduce someone else to your brand and that’s the bottom line. So that’s your, that’s your whole goal with it. And if you can do that, then you’re making another customer for yourself and you didn’t have to spend more money on advertising, organic posting to do it. And that’s, that’s the key, Charles (23:20): When’s the right time to kind of hit them with that offer. Cause I mean, you see them, okay. Cause you see a lot, people do it wrong, right. Where, and that fulfillment email like, Hey, your order shipped, you know, give 10, get 10. And you’re like, I haven’t even got the order yet. Like what are you? I don’t even know if I like the product. Like why would I refer it to, you know, someone on my Facebook feed if I haven’t even like seen it yet. So like how would you get that? And when do you get that? Sam (23:46): So I think with the referral, there’s the thing to keep in mind is that it doesn’t, isn’t limited to one time. Right? And then it’s going to be a little different for each product. But the goal is if we think to ourselves, when is that moment that I’m getting a wow experience that I’m getting like the highest high of the product experience. That’s when you want to ask somebody for the referral, when they’re most excited. So you have to take that in. You have to do some critical thinking for yourself because there’s so many products in e-commerce. But if we take one for example, right here would be a good example. I have this, this Suunto watch, right. They, and I don’t know if they do it or not, but like I have to log in and create an account that I then like upload my, you know, runs and back country skiing and client, whatever, too. Sam (24:43): And so what if I were the company, if I saw that a user had successfully uploaded an activity, so first I would like have a campaign to get them to upload that first activity, use the watch. I want them to use it before I ask for referrals. Right. That’s the delight I want to like, make sure it’s really clear. They have instructions. I want to remind them, Hey, it looks like you haven’t uploaded anything to the platform yet. You know, here’s what you can see. Here’s how you do it. If you have any questions, you know, we have, if we have a support team, then reach out type of thing. I’m going to try and do it without involving humans first. But then when I see them upload that first, you know, run to the platform because it’s tied to the watch and that, you know, probably is going to be the same email they use to purchase. I want to then ask them for referral. Cause they just got the use out of it. You with me? Yep. That would be the example. So you gotta think like when are you creating that wow. Experience? And then do you have the technology infrastructure and the data to actually power the automation? Charles (25:51): I mean, you could even do this a lot more low tech in some ways, right of, Hey, when you use this product, you know, maybe it’s not the watch, it’s a hat, right? Like when you use this product to go skiing with post-it pick put it on our Instagram or whatever, and then at least, you know, Oh, they must’ve been skiing cause they have a picture of them ski with a hat on now let’s follow up with them that way. Sam (26:12): Exactly. So you can do low-tech absolutely. A good I’m trying to think of, so I’m just looking around, you know, like it’s, you can just look around your desk and see products that you bought and like, Oh, here’s one like chapstick, right? Is it chapstick company? I really like out of Joshua tree, California and I would give it like, as soon as somebody got this, I give them about, you know, two or three days to have an opportunity to use it. And I would do that probably four times at a minimum, you know? So wait two or three days, three days and just remind people that, Hey, we have this cool thing. It, you know give a chapstick, get one or something or get 5% off, you know, something like that that gives people some kind of incentive to buy it because you’re using it. It’s a consumable and you want that repeat purchase. And so I would just give people, you know, if I knew the amount of time it took for someone to likely use it, then that’s what I, that’s how I would use it in that case. Okay. Charles (27:17): The other one’s talking about knowing how much time, right? Because you know that chapstick, you can get it two days after it’s there, you’re going to open it and start using it. But those back country skis, you might buy them. It could be months before you can actually get out there and use them. So it’s a very different, Sam (27:31): So then it’s going to be seasonal, right? Whether it’s changing, they bought it in the Northern hemisphere. So, and we know that because everybody gets shipping information and e-commerce, and now we’re going to send a campaign, a referral campaign when the winter season begins throughout the winter season, you know, asking people to share pictures, but that’s all going to be automated or set up in advance on a yearly basis. Charles (27:56): Some tools you’d use to actually do that, to kind of get, get all that data. Sam (28:00): So one of the tools that we use and for us, and I’m going to preface this because it’s not about the tools, because if you can find a tool, that’ll do the job, great tools are always changing. So you gotta make sure that the tool does the job for what you need. Don’t, you know, it’s not a game of, Oh, I heard about this tool. It’s like, that’s good now. See if it actually does what you are. I’m sure you see that all the time. Charles (28:25): We see it all the time. I think people get way into like the tools and what they can do. And our biggest competitor here is Microsoft Excel. Right? Like, and that’s probably most, you know, that’s like, that’s like the de facto tool that does almost every B2B thing possible. So yeah, you can get way too into tools. So I definitely know that, Sam (28:46): But that said though, I’ll give some too. So yeah. So those are pretty cool. So one of the tools that we partner heavily with is a tool called Ontraport. And what’s really nice about them is you can hook up. They are not an e-commerce platform in the traditional add to cart sense. They’re more in this marketing space you know, landing page and you can have an order form, but if you’re in raw, e-commerce like Ontraport is not the tool you’re using to actually manage the inventory and stuff. But it is the tool to manage your marketing campaigns because you can hook up your e-commerce store to it and then power all this data driven marketing off of it and slice and dice your segments any way you want to so that you go, Oh, I’ve got this great idea for a promotion or a sale or some kind of communication you want to do. Sam (29:38): You can say, show me all the people who bought this and have been a customer for this long and are in North America, you know? And so you can slice off, get that and send a campaign out to them that you designed and automated. And you can also have those automated aspects of the journey that sometimes the e-commerce platforms don’t handle, you know, an e-commerce platforms usually good for some basic automation, right. It sends the receipt, right. And if you hook up some kind of shipping tracking solution, then people appreciate getting their tracking information. That’s another opportunity is when something’s actually been delivered, use that date as then the driver of the weight from when they’ve purchased it. Cause it’s the actual date. They got it. Charles (30:26): Yeah. And I think a lot of systems are getting better with, you know, drip, Klaviyo. They’re all kind of hooked into the platforms. Sam (30:33): Yeah. That’s another example. So I do encourage people to say, does, is there a native, you know, we use Ontraport heavily as essential because a lot of customers who work with to have a mix of digital, and this is another opportunity for eCommerce stores, digital products and e-commerce products. And they do, they do a promotion of a digital EEG and a physical product bundle. So I wouldn’t rule that out either for those in the e-commerce world, what can you take and make a digital product that requires, you know, effectively, you don’t, you’re not calculating your profit margins on a physical product because it’s digital. So once you build it, you can sell it. And can you sell that along with your physical product? And it’s usually much faster, easier to create than bringing a physical product to market. Yeah. And it took me down another rabbit hole. Charles (31:27): No, and I think digital products, one of those things that not a lot of e-commerce folks talk about it, but I know. And vice versa. Yeah. That’s actually, that’s a good point. Sam (31:36): You’re separate worlds. You know, that, that, there’s a lot of really smart stuff happening in the digital world, which we have to spend a lot of time and a lot of really smart stuff happening in e-commerce. And I’m hoping that those worlds collide more and more in the coming years, because I think the opportunities for learning are incredible. Charles (31:56): What’s a good example of a digital product you can kind of, I, I see, I see they do surprisingly well in the e-commerce world, but what are some examples that you’ve seen? Sam (32:05): So here’s a good one. And this is someone, this is a consumable product. And it happens to be kind of a similar vein. It’s a customer of ours. So I can tell it very accurately. They have a e-commerce store called omelet green. They sell like a herbal tea that is also has some medicinal properties for like lowering your blood glucose level. So it’s really good if you’re diabetic to help manage that. Right. And they are also, they have this, actually this came after they did their digital stuff, funnily enough. So they went to e-commerce after they’re in the digital world, but they still have their digital world, which is the guys are PhDs and they help, they have an entire DIY and full, personalized coaching program. So you can get like, just access to the material to lower your diabetes. If you’re type two down to a level where you can basically get rid of it, or if you’re type one, how to manage it really well. Sam (33:05): Cause the, both of the guys who started this thing are type one diabetic they’re partners in the end. So they’ve, they like experimented on themselves, went through, figuring it out, got PhDs and the chemistry of it all and the biochemistry. And you know, now they help people with that and they’ve helped a lot of people successfully. So they created an e-commerce product that they use just in their own life and package it up. But so a good example of what they sell is they sell this e-commerce product that is consumable, which is great for recurring revenue. And then they have this digital product. That’s the guide on how to actually in their case, take a heart smart action plan is what they call it, you know? So to put some words to it. So it’s you get the T and the action plan of how to manage your diabetes with it. Sam (33:55): And so it gets people into their ecosystem. It also gives people a tool and they’re able to sell both a physical product and a digital product. And so the margins are a lot higher on that sale and they use automation and our guests get people the full picture, yeah, run ads. That’s not automated other than just, you know, there’s somebody doing Facebook, advertising, Google advertising, and on their team, they get people in, they run people through a webinar that’s where they’re inviting them to the advertisement. And then they follow up after the webinars. So they’re selling at the end of the webinar, or they’re giving the people the opportunity for the offer after the education. And then they follow up for like five or six weeks, five or six weeks. Most e-commerce does not do that five or six weeks, just information, great stories, success story about the product and the plan that are real testimonial style that they give people. Sam (35:00): And that is how they drive revenue to that. So they just capitalize as much as they can on. And I would hope so because they’re a customer of ours, but you know, they do the work to attract. And then they just use automation to follow up after that live webinar. And they found that live webinars do better than recorded ones. So they just roll with that. And they also have some recorded ones, but they’ll do live ones and they just follow up to people, quote, unquote, buyer die, you know, leave their ecosystem. And that generates a ton of sales for them. And because you’re selling a physical and a digital product, they’ve got a one-time digital product. That’s super high margins with the opportunity for other digital products that are payment plans or subscriptions like work with a nutritionist. And then they have a super low ticket offer. If you will compare to that, the actual product of this tea that’s made with the, you know, the, the it’s called like Alma green that they like and were found to be effective, to keep like glucose down, if you’re doing other things as well. So that’s a good example of that. And that’s all recurring revenue for them. And they can also afford to spend more to get that customer because no matter what they’re going to, they’re making some money and they bundle it up in different ways. Charles (36:20): I think a long follow-up that helps too with people get used to hearing from you. And it becomes now, you’re not just a stranger, you’re actually you know, you’re actually someone they know and you’re an email address. They recognize when they get that email, it’s not like, Oh, what’s this again? And like, ah, whatever it’s Oh yeah. They sent me emails every three days. So whatever they’ve been sending me emails nonstop every six weeks and it starts to become, you know, now maybe they didn’t open the first three, but by email number nine, all of a sudden they’re like, eh, they start reading it. And it’s, that’s like, yeah. So unless people are hitting like that unscarred button right at the beginning. But if you can just get over that little bit, that little bit at the beginning, now, all of a sudden you could actually have a conversation with them. And I think knowing that is yeah. And like you said, most e-commerce brands they’re sending the one or two follow-ups and then it’s okay. Sam (37:06): Forgetting about you, you know, but you, but like, they’ve done a lot of hard work, whether it’s through organic content or paid advertising to get you there. I mean, that is like, that is the hardest work of business can do to get right. You know, getting that interest. And honestly the easiest work is following up, but it’s just forgotten. Cause we’re all onto that new next customer that we can get. But if you just put it in place fiber, I mean five or six weeks for an e-commerce, don’t be afraid, you know, don’t be afraid to try that. Charles (37:38): I think a lot of people you’re focusing on, everyone’s focusing on some sort of number or some sort of metric KPI, right. What’s my revenue per month. What’s my, like that sort of thing. But I think sometimes just, it’s a lot more valuable, like you said, slowing down a little bit and let’s focus on the average, the Sam (37:57): Lifetime value, right. Or the average lifetime. There’s a lot of different ways to say the same thing, but Charles (38:02): Basically the total value of that, Sam (38:05): How much money does someone spend with you over before they stop spending money with you? Charles (38:10): And that’s a lot harder to track. It’s not as like exciting and easy to move, but like you said, it’s more of that tsunami that like, once you start moving that number, now it’s going to really, okay. Multiplied by thousands of orders, thousands of users, thousands of customers. Now we’re really looking at, Oh wow, this is a small bump. There is really moving the bottom line. And kind of like you’re saying, it’s to run, you know, double ad spend, you have to, you know, double your ad spend. But this is a lot of things you can, a lot of leverage, you can pull that isn’t doubling spend, but can increase revenue, can increase the bottom line. Great. Sam (38:47): Exactly. And then the whole deal, right? If you bring it back to this idea of automation is that if you use automation to power, the communication about this and delivering those offers to people and those stories and whatever it is, you’re using communicates to get people to, to you know, opt in or buy the next thing, really buy the next thing in this case, then you’re not manually doing it. Right. And you can scale it. And that’s the key it’s like automation gives you the power to scale. That’s like the bottom line, it gives you the power to scale without extra human resources. I like that. And as soon as you add more human resources, things are inconsistent. Again. Even if they’re the best, like people take time off life happens. It’s just the reality. And so whatever you can automate do that. And then like hire, spend your money on really smart, creative people who can attract more business for you. Sam (39:39): But everything past the track, see if there’s a piece of technology that can do it for you, you know, and it can be configured and set up, right. Because that’s what you wanna do. You don’t, you don’t want humans doing anything past, you could talk about. Maybe they could do some stuff in convert, but really anything past the track, you shouldn’t, you know, as much as you can, don’t hire people to do it. There are situations where it’s required, but that’s why people automate their manufacturing. That’s why people automate, you know, the idea of automation first started in fulfillment, right? In the whole process, the building of things, you know, you were automating stuff. So that’s most of what we think about an automation doing a task. And if you think about your marketing and your conversion efforts as sequences of tasks of communication, then use automation to power that, Charles (40:33): Yeah. I like I tell you, there’s a lot of times, you know, there’s we automate 99% of orders. There’s at 1% that the humans do better. S where, and that’s okay. And like, you know that, okay. Ups ran over the box and it’s for a wedding tomorrow morning. So we have to get this tonight, down to ups. So they can next day air. Like, and that’s something that can like, you’ll never be automate that like, Oh, it’s for a wedding. I didn’t understand. Okay. Let’s, let’s kinda get down to ups right now. The fulfillment center. Sam (41:00): Yeah. You’ve got the 99% of it automated. Then you can actually Charles (41:05): Can beyond that, right? Yeah. They get, they can get their phone call and they’re not so bogged down. And I’m just going to, I’m sending spreadsheets around, they’re now going, Oh, they can hear the problem and understand and go, all right, that other 99%, that’s just, that’s running in the background. The computers get that. That’s what the robots do. This 1% that really requires me. And, you know, to make a phone call and to figure out, to really figure out how to, okay, there’s a problem. How do we solve this problem out of the box? That is where the, you know, the people should be spending their time in the business. So I like to ask, that’s definitely how we think about a toe. Sam (41:38): Exactly. Right. And then there’s another thing that comes to mind here. I put on my desk when I was looking for products, but this is and for those not watching, this is a handwritten, thank you note. Right. But it’s merged out of a system and it’s written by a machine that looks handwritten. And so these kinds of things that were Charles (42:02): Now, there’s a robot, it’s a robot that holds a pen. So it’s not like a printer that like the participant it’s a robot and the robot can basically have handwriting and they get better and better. And, but they’re really using pens. So that like, you know, when you move the pencil on the edge on, at the end of the sentence, Sam (42:20): It’s not, it doesn’t look like it’s printed because it’s not, it’s literally written with a pen. Charles (42:25): Yeah, exactly. So it happened to be by a robot, but you can, like you said, scale so you can send out thousands of those and, Sam (42:30): And that’s right. And you could send it right after they buy something and you could include a purse. Like you could merge the thing that they bought into that message so that you know, that the, you know, they feel like it’s not just a generic message. Yep. And you can do these personalized things with the data you have, and you can use automation to kick off that process. After the purchase happens, it sends out for everybody. That’s a great way to do, you know, encourage referrals because people open physical mail still. Yep. Charles (43:05): Well, especially when it’s handwritten you know, I get those once in a while, even though the Henry ones, it’s, you know, they’re selling you something usually like yeah. Ones here that they want to buy the house, you know, Hey, Charles, I want to buy it. And you’re like, what? But you look at his handwritten, like write this to me. And like, you really do read it. Sam (43:22): Yeah. And especially if you’re an e-commerce right. If you just bought something from someone versus trying to get sold, something you’re not interested in, you just bought something and you get like a handwritten, thank you. Note, that’s where we have this saying, and it’s on our website, but it’s be human where accounts otherwise automate. Right. But part of that is use automation to be human as well and create a human connection because the reality is, you know, that going out, that’s why you put it in place, if you did. And it doesn’t lessen the impact on the person who receives it. Yeah. It just allows you to do that for everybody. And people can argue philosophically, however you want. But if you’re hearing, you’re trying to generate revenue, that’s a great tool. Charles (44:09): Yes. And hopefully the people here just want, they want the revenue, right. Because at the end of the day, too, you get the revenue to help more people. And that’s kind of a goal of this whole thing, right. That sure. I could hand write. I could write all these notes by hand and do a hundred orders a month, or we could get the product in the hands of a lot more folks help a lot more folks, but we need to augment some parts of the business with, with helping different ways. Sam (44:34): Do you think about kind of like a bionic suit, right? How can I use technology to help me lift more, you know, move faster with less energy. Charles (44:42): Love it. All right. I could talk about this all day, but I watch the time. So if people want to kind of see more of what you’re doing, kind of check out the site, what could they do that? Sam (44:52): Yeah. Mobile pocket office.com is the best place to go. It’s really easy to book a call with us. And if people want to engage with us, the way we work is we, we sit, we have an engagement where we actually go through everything that makes up your process. We go through those five pillars. And then from there, we’re able to discuss the outcomes of what are you able to and what do you want to automate to augment your business? And then we put the technology in place and the key is then we teach you how to use it. And that way you can run with it. So that’s how we work. And it’s really exciting to see when, when people have that ability, you know, the big thing it does. I mean, you mentioned it, we were discussing before the show, but the big thing it does for people is it, it gives back their time, not, I mean, number one, it grows, you know, it grows your business. Sure. That’s huge. That’s amazing. That’s wonderful. But it gives you back your time as a human to do whatever the hell you want outside of just being a you know, robot to your business, a slave to your job that you created for yourself. Charles (46:00): Yup. Love it. Okay. I will link to that in the show notes and people want to reach out. I’ll definitely have it all there. So appreciate it. Come on it. Thanks a lot. It was great chatting. Thank you.
46 minutes | Mar 24, 2021
5 Keys to a Successful eCommerce Business (E160)
https://www.youtube.com/embed/Usw7BbIx6RQ Luc Simmons Co-Owner of Scope16 Notes: 5 Keys Time Conversion Organic Data Money Sponsors: Spark Shipping Links: https://www.scope16.com/ https://www.instagram.com/lucsimmons/?hl=en https://www.facebook.com/scopem16arketing Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the business. E-Commerce I talk with Luke Simmons about the five keys of a successful e-commerce business. This is the business of e-commerce episode 160. Charles (00:19): Welcome to the business. E-Commerce the show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow the e-commerce business. I’m your host, Charles Buskey and I’m here today with Luke Simmons. Luke is the co-owner of scope 16, an agency that works with e-commerce retailers to help them scale from six to seven figures, I asked Luke on the show today to chat about what are the five key elements that are required for successful e-commerce business, like how he runs through this list. And they really are all things that you should be thinking about when you’re first starting or just trying to scale your business. And he helps to really set some expectations for a lot of retailers, usually early on that kind of starting what they should really be looking at and know what they’re getting into. I think anyone starting off this is going to be super helpful. He goes through the five different topics. I’ll link to those in the show notes, but let’s get into it. Speaker 2 (01:09): So, Hey look, how are you doing today? Speaker 3 (01:11): I’m doing really well. Charles, how are you? Good. Charles (01:13): Happy to have you on the show. I think I think this topic is great for people kind of starting off. I see a lot of retailers kind of trying to get going and they kind of get stuck right at that very beginning phase. Speaker 3 (01:25): Absolutely. Especially, you know, this well, everything that’s happened in the last 12 to 18 months, it’s definitely, everyone’s noticed that, you know, going online and e-commerce in particular has been something that, you know, a lot of people wanted to jump on and take advantage of and you know, don’t blame them whatsoever. So, absolutely. I think it’s definitely a question that relates to a lot of newbies, if you like, in terms of the e-commerce, I’m really getting their brand up and up and up. Charles (01:52): Yep. Yeah. We’ve seen ’em I know his hair, at least we’ve seen a lot of brick and mortar retailers in the past 12 months say like, you know, the brick and mortar is just zero. People coming in were shut down to some government you know, the government lockdown sort of thing. We need to do something and we’re like, we still have these distributor relationships. We still have all these products. We still have all the stuff we just need to sell it somewhere. So a lot of them jumping online just because of that, but it is different, right? Because let’s say you’re a brick and mortar. You’re used to, you know, putting on your sign, doing your local advertising and you’re competing against the people within a X number of mile radius versus you online. Now you’re competing against everyone in a it’s a niche. So it’s like this like virtual radius. And does a mind shift a mindset shift there? Speaker 3 (02:35): Absolutely. You know, everything from the way that you position yourself as a brand to, you know, even the community, because you know, like you said, brick and mortar, you understand the community that you’re living in, you understand what their needs and their wants going online and one competing, but also then trying to understand how your audience can change from whether they’re on the East coast or the West coast is completely different. So yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s definitely not something that is just, you know, a quick fix and it’s definitely not something that you can just kind of jump straight into it takes time. But it’s definitely the place to be in my opinion right now, Charles (03:10): So. Sure. Yeah. So you have five reasons. I like numbers. I like less with numbers, so we know what we’re going to know. So Speaker 3 (03:17): Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Yeah. Let’s, let’s do it. So, I mean, I’ve got the five things here and like you said, this is definitely for, you know, when you’re first getting into it, understanding five of the most important things to take into consideration to allow yourself to start building a long-term e-commerce brand. So the five things, I narrowed it down to a time website conversion using and leveraging organic side of things. So more, more on the social media side data and money as well. Charles (03:47): So organic, more tickets, some notes out. Speaker 3 (03:51): Yeah. number four was data and number five was money, Charles (03:55): Data and money. All right, well, let’s go into each one here, data. All right. So number one is time when you say time, what are we, what are we talking about specifically there? Speaker 3 (04:06): Time is, I think it’s just an expectation, expectation thing. You know, like I just touched on a minute ago, it’s people think, you know, owning, running an e-commerce store is something that can just be done and it can be done very, very quickly. But I think once you start diving into the world of e-commerce, you understand, it’s not as simple as just having a product and having a website for sure. You know, there’s been cases and, you know, people have got lucky, they’ve struck gold on the first go and don’t get me wrong. They’ve made a huge success of it. But on the whole it’s understanding that, you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day as I like to say. Charles (04:40): Yeah. I think I talked a lot to retailers in this and Hey, I have this launch on whatever, like February 20th and you start saying like, unless you’ve done this before, unless you have your marketing and your like locked down, figured out, really dialed in. It’s very hard to just say, Oh, on the 20th, we’re going to like open the door and there’ll be that line coming in. It’s not like, yeah, it’s not like you’re like at the beach and have an ice cream shop. And like you, Hey, we’re selling ice cream. People just like show up. You need to really get people there. So, Speaker 3 (05:11): And there’s so many, you know, in that particular example, there’s so many things to consider, like you said, inventory the buildup, you know, are you, are you going to be spending on paid ads leading up to that point? You know, or are you going to be spending ads on that day? Because you know, again, paid ads don’t just happen overnight. You need to find the right right time to start and prepare for it. There’s other things to get in place as well. And I think, unless you’ve done that a few times, you could be the most prepared person in entire world. There’s always going to be things that come up, you know, that’s life, that’s, that’s just business at the end of the day. Charles (05:45): Yeah. I mean, I’ve talked to some folks here that they run their paid ahead of time. Right. And they start generating email list and they’re really, and then they look and, you know, I have X number of thousands of people on this list and they know, okay. And they’ve done it over three months. So this list is warm. They’ve been communicating with them day one, they opened up and they keep kind of, Hey, it’s gonna happen in a week. It’s going to happen in seven, in five days, it’s gonna happen tomorrow. And then it happens and they just, and then the flood Gates open up. But just to say, yeah, I’m gonna start running a Facebook ad. It’s a little unrealistic that day. Speaker 3 (06:16): Absolutely. And I also think, you know, there’s, there’s always two ways to look at it. It’s, it’s looking at it from an internal point of view and thinking about your brand, but you know, with, especially like this last 18 months has been the perfect example, the external factors going on in the world, whether it’s to do with the pandemic, whether it’s to do with the change in predator presidency, they all play a part in how well your launch will perform. And that’s something that you have to consider. It’s not just, you know, it suits us and it suits our brand to do this. Yes, sure. But what’s happening at that particular point in time that could potentially lead to over for performing or underperforming you know, when, when you reached that launch date Charles (06:55): Yeah. How would you, what, what kind of the, the mental model there be on, you know, you’re a new retailer and you’re like, Hey, we’re gonna launch the end of February. How would you kind of get yourself ready for that and understand, no, like what should my expectations be? Should we be looking at you know, two week, two day, two year horizon? Like, how would you have been tell some about that? Speaker 3 (07:17): That’s a great question. And obviously it’s, it’s definitely case by case, but just to give you, I would say a general structure, the way that I would always start to think about these things is, you know, break it down to the basic. So of course, if you’re, if you’re leading up to a launch, the most important thing is, do you have the inventory and do you, do you have the ability to, you know deal with the amount of orders that you’re expecting as well. And then taking a step back from that, it’s also making sure that you have the things in place like paid advertising, or at least traffic, you could narrow it down to that, you know, is going to be somewhat in the same level or the same threshold to allow you to sell enough of the inventory. So the way that I would look at it from to answer your question in a simpler way is first of all, understanding the inventory that you need to have. Speaker 3 (08:08): And secondly, understanding from your audience’s point of view and your, you know, your ideal customer persona, what is it that they’re looking for? And then beyond that, it’s just being aware of those external factors. Like I said, once you’ve learned the basics, you know, you can almost over-prepare as long as you have the inventory and you understand that this is something that’s highly in demand, then yes, I would definitely recommend going for one of those hard date launches. If that isn’t the case, to be completely honest with Charles. And it’s something that you’re still in the early stages of learning and, you know, wanting to understand what the demand is for. I wouldn’t have such a hard launch day. It’d be something that I’d gradually built in and I wouldn’t have such an emphasis on it. It’s definitely something that I think having a hard launch date like that is something that should be built into a longterm plan for your e-commerce brands. You really have to understand who you are as a business and, you know, the customers that you’re selling to Charles (08:59): Two years as an entrepreneur, right? Like I think some people having that hard launch date that, that does something internally for them and they feel good and they’re going to push and everyone pushes, but other people, like I know myself, I dislike hard dates. Like I want to know if we get the night before and I’m like, you know what, I’m not ready. I want to be able to push it back or it’s nice having you do launch that day. And it’s, it’s a continuous soft launch, and maybe you don’t open up to a thousand orders, but you might open up and get a couple orders and then realize, Ooh, that, that like email sequence doesn’t really make any sense. Right. You know, now that I see it, it doesn’t, let’s dial that back. So instead of just like pushing a thousand people through that day one and realizing, Oh, that ended doesn’t make any sense. It’s a lot easier to correct. Speaker 3 (09:41): Exactly. And, you know, it’s, it’s, you know, even things I do on a basic, a daily basis, you know, you can, you can end up rushing things and that’s when you miss the little details. And like you said, you know, it can be simple things like, you know, the, the after buy buyer experience, you know, have you got that in place? You know? Yes. You could have a great short term gain, but have you got the backend sorted because once you’ve got people coming into your store and they’re buying, you know, products and and all sorts from you, is that something, is that an experience that they enjoyed and are they going to be coming back in the future? And that’s the other thing, you know, it’s not just about what’s happening in the present. It’s you need to be thinking, you know, a few months ahead and how they’re going to be affected. Yeah. Charles (10:17): And there’s all sorts of things and you, you learn, right. Like your analytics. So you’ll realize, Oh my Google analytics wasn’t set up. Right. I need to kind of go back and have these, like, there’s always this other thing that you forgot and having that like pressure behind you does help. So Speaker 3 (10:31): Exactly. It’s, it’s, I think it’s about setting realistic expectations at the end of the day. Yeah. Charles (10:36): When you said, so number two was conversion, what was that about? Speaker 3 (10:40): Yeah. So website conversion you know, us as an agency, we, we are specialists when it comes to paid ads for econ, but at the end of the day, you know, it’s like any service-based business, you have to understand that there’s other factors that will play a part in the service that you’re providing. And one of the biggest things for us is, you know, knowing that when we’re sending the traffic to an end destination, whether that’s a website, whether that’s a landing page or a funnel, we have to know that that is going to be to a, to a standard where it should be converting. Right. and I think, you know, especially when we were again talking about the early stages of an e-commerce brand it’s something that can often be overlooked in my personal opinion. And the worst thing that I’ve seen happen is, you know, in those early stages, the emphasis is put too much on paid ads and you start wasting thousands and thousands of dollars sending traffic to a website that just isn’t converting at the rate. It should be. And that, you know, that’s another thing that I’ll touch on throughout the course of this conversation, but it’s, it’s all about at the beginning, understanding the assets that you really need to get off the ground before you start spending money on driving traffic to those assets. Because if you don’t have those in place, you’re throwing money, literally down the drain, how would you get that Charles (11:54): Baseline? Because right. You don’t know, day one, you send to this page and don’t even realize it, should it be converting at a 0.5 or a 5% conversion rate, like, and it changes business to business. So you have no idea. And then you send paid traffic and you’re like, Oh, it’s converting at a four, you know, a 1%, is that good? Is that bad? Like you don’t even know. So how do you get that baseline data? Correct. Speaker 3 (12:15): And it, again, it ties back to the time, but you’re right. You don’t know initially, and you, th th there always needs to be obviously a form of traffic going to a website, and this is, you know, touching onto the third one. And this is why they all really come together. And tightly bond is the fact that there is so much available to us these days when it comes to organic methods, you know, across, you know, Facebook, Instagram, just to name the big ones. Obviously then you’ve got things like Tik TOK, which in this day and age is becoming almost one of the best platforms to really go viral on. And, you know, a lot of e-commerce brands that we deal with personally have leveraged that, and it’s really allowed their business to, you know, reach record months, time and time again. And to go back to your question about the baseline, the assets that really are important to get yourself off the ground is one having a, a website and not necessarily, you know, knowing the indefinite conversion rate that is going to have, but making sure that you have, you know, even if it’s family and friends and keeping it basic and just testing the user experience. Speaker 3 (13:15): So, you know, I land on your website. I look at the homepage, I get to the categories, or they can get to a product page. I add a product to car and I start to initiate checkout and make the purchase. How easy was that? Did I, you know, did I get caught on anything? Was there anything that, you know, took me to, to a destination that I wasn’t expecting? And it’s, it’s simple mistakes like that, that can end up costing you a lot of money if you haven’t got those basic checks in place at the beginning. So the first thing I would say is, is making sure you’ve got a website that’s at least being checked and the user buyer experience is acceptable and something like Shopify on the whole will allow that to happen. So that’s definitely the first asset, the second asset. Speaker 3 (13:55): And one of the most important is data. Again, data can be in so many forms. It can be through the Facebook pixel, through Google analytics, it can be through an email list. And when you’re first starting out, that’s not necessarily something you’re going to have. So again, this is where it all comes back to the organic side of things is that I’m not opposed to paid ads. You know, at the end of the day, that’s what we live and breathe. The agency at scope 16, but at the same time being realistic about it, you have to start to understand your audience and who you’re really targeting in my opinion, from an organic point of view, before, even the thinking and considering about using paid advertising to your advantage, Charles (14:35): Do you see people get stuck in this kind of chicken and egg sort of thing, where they want to cut? They want to start testing, but they don’t, you know, they need to run paid ads, but like, and they don’t know which one to do first. And should you wait for organic? Cause that can take how much time to kick in. So what do you kind of recommend people do to out of this chicken and egg? Speaker 3 (14:53): Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. It’s it’s, it’s definitely something that, and, and that’s the thing I, you know, it might have sounded like, you know, I’m almost saying don’t touch paid ads until you get to a certain point, but the truth is that’s not the case. You should definitely do a bit of everything, but you know, th the main point here is that when I’m talking about the assets that you need to have before you even consider paid advertising is the website. That is your biggest asset as an e-commerce brand. You know, people, that’s where people at the end of the day need to go in order to buy your products. That’s where you’re making all of your money. And, you know, that’s the biggest thing that you need to have initially then the first thing in the first few weeks I’m talking about, even in the first month, it’s about just understanding, you know, by putting content out there and by reaching out to family and friends and just getting some very, very preliminary and initial feedback on your product, you know, the sort of feedback you are getting now, if the feedback is positive and, you know, you start to see that actually there is a demand for it, even with, like I said, even if it’s within your close network, that’s when I would highly start recommending that you do start putting a little bit money into paid advertising. Speaker 3 (15:59): But what we do often see happening Charles is, you know, people are working from home, they set up an e-commerce sites. No one, not even their family members know that, you know, this is something they’ve built out. And then before, you know, it, they start running paid ads. And that’s the thing just use, you know, it’s like good old business. It’s, it’s not, it’s not what, you know, it’s almost who, you know, right. And it’s kind of using that to leverage the initial early days into a point where you can at least test your product with a few people before start, before you start wasting money and paid ads. Charles (16:31): Yeah. Well, I’ve always liked starting with paid ads, but not for actual, you know, you hear people talk about ROAS and like kind of tracking that, but at the beginning, you’re not actually looking for any sort of return on ad spend. You’re just looking to either, like you said, email family and friends, and give me some data because you know, I like you and we know each other, or just basically buy traffic to get that same data. Right. So I don’t know, maybe you have no friends and you don’t want to ask, you don’t want to hound anyone. You can just pay X number of dollars, get the traffic. And you’re not buying, you’re not looking for any return on ads, but you’re really not looking for any of that. You’re just looking for, I’m buying data right now. I’m just buying my convert. I’m basically buying my conversion numbers. I need to learn this number. And here’s how I get us. Speaker 3 (17:14): Yeah, exactly. And it’s, it’s like you said, it’s, it’s, it’s having that expectation again. You know, a lot of people think you put, paid out, you’ve put money into paid ads instantly means you’re getting a ROAS. Yeah. Like you said, it’s, it’s, it’s the expectation. If you’re willing to put, put it into paid ads at the beginning, just understand that it you’re playing the long-term game at that initial point. You know, once you start to get the feedback and you can make the relevant tweaks, whether it’s to your, to your product, whether it’s to the, the, the creative side of things, when it comes to how you’re displaying your product, or even you know, certain parts of the user experience, then you can really start to expect to see a on ad spend. But you’re absolutely right within those first 30 to 90 days is the crucial time period in my personal opinion. So use all these organic methods to really give yourself as much of a advantage before you start running paid ads. But on the other hand, if you want that ahead, that you know that headstart and you have the money to put into it, of course do it, but don’t expect to see the return on ad spend. It just Charles (18:13): Allows you to move faster. That’s at the end of the day, right? Like you’re going to get there. If you build organic traffic, you can build a Facebook following. You will get the data. But if there’s one of the day today, I can pay for a thousand people to come to my site and just see what they do and absolutely right. To get a thousand people through organic, you will get there. It just takes, it will take time and using ads just as like a shortcut to this method. Speaker 3 (18:35): Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, pay paid ads is, is something that in any e-commerce form is a must. It’s just, you know, knowing when to use it and how to use it. Like you said, at the beginning, the objective is different. It’s sending people to your website so that you can learn test and then obviously impotence your website. And then obviously as you start to get into it is to build that consistency when it comes to the return that you’re making on the budget that you’re investing. Charles (19:03): Yep. We said, organic, you started touching upon that. And I was expecting you to go through to the SEO route, but you kind of went with Facebook and some other social, organic, social, organic let’s call it that. Why would you do not classify SEO in that bucket anymore? Or because it’s 2021, SEO is a whole different game. What are you kind of see that growing Speaker 3 (19:24): Agreed. A good question. It’s actually something I’ve never really thought about it like that. SEO is obviously it’s something that it’s, it’s definitely, in my opinion, when it comes to any form of organic or any form of marketing, it’s obviously that real long-term game. And again, it’s something that’s vital to have, but it’s definitely something that a lot of people don’t think about until, you know, their eCommerce brand becomes somewhat established. So I would consider organic, but if you, if you like it, that would, I would consider it the slow organic methods, the, the organic methods I’m thinking of have the potential to go quick, don’t get me wrong. They definitely don’t go as quick as paid ads as we just touched on, but they have the potential to, to go a lot quicker and start sending traffic to your website a lot quicker as well. And it gives, it gives you that, that balance between it not taking forever, if you know what you’re doing, but at the same time, it’s still a free resource. It’s still something that you can leverage without having to make the investment. Charles (20:23): So you’re saying, get out there, start an Instagram start posting and just do the work to basically build a following on Instagram, a tech taco, wherever Speaker 3 (20:31): Exactly. It’s, it’s something that is, is quite often neglected. Because like you said, that’s the thing it’s, it’s finding the balance. You know, a lot of people will go to heavy paid ads. Some people go way too heavy, organic, and it’s finding the balance. Social media should be something that is done, you know as an omni-channel you need to be. And that’s why by building them up from day one even if you are going to be using paid ads, you’re you have, you have then platforms that you’re able to send people to and keep people connected with your brand. You know, if you don’t have a Facebook page set up, if you don’t have an Instagram profile setup, even tick-tock, whatever it may be that you use, if you’re not using that from day one, you’re potentially missing out on keeping in touch with those initial customers that come your way, Charles (21:14): Do you feel like it’s very industry dependent on which platform to go with? Because I know some people you hear like Tik TOK is like the thing and other people, like, I don’t, you know, I sell to, I sell print, just a dentist to talk just isn’t like doing isn’t moving the needle for me. Speaker 3 (21:29): Yeah, yeah. That’s exactly what was actually going to touch on. So, absolutely right. It completely depends, you know, on the, on the, on the sub niche or the category of products that you’re selling. And one of the big ones I think again, is, is definitely in 2020, and also the beginning of 2021 we’ve noticed is, is, is really playing well again, not for everyone, but for specific products. And that is Facebook groups. You know, there are certain products out there which allow you to build a community off of, of course, if it’s going to be, for example, a, a clothing store, a Facebook group is unlikely to be something that, you know, the users or the buyers would benefit from. On the other hand, though, if you’ve got a product, for example, that’s selling something along the lines of candle supplies that say, just thinking of previous clients, but let’s say candle suppliers, you know, that’s something where obviously people are buying products and then at home are actually creating something. Speaker 3 (22:25): And that allows you to then start to build a community of people we’re doing the same thing, have the same interests. And, you know, rather than just having a following on Instagram, a Facebook group is going to be something that’s much more unique and is something that you’re then able to build up over time. And it’s about finding, like I said, for your own particular brand, which of these platforms is going to work best. You know, again, if you have one particular product that, you know, works incredibly well and is almost, I like to put it into a category of an everyday product, but something that stands out from the crowd. So, you know, you’ve, you’ve, you have an everyday product, like for example, a water bottle. But it’s something that, you know, offers something slightly unique. It allows you to create videos, which something tick-tock is great for is kind of comparison videos, right? Speaker 3 (23:09): You know, this water bottle can do this compared to a standard waterfall. So they can’t. And you know, that’s talking in very basic terms, but Tik TOK works in such a good way when it comes to those types of videos and creatives. And the other thing I wanted to touch on with organic is social proof is by far the best type of content that you can use both organically, but also most importantly, and paid ads as well. And, you know, there’s no better way of getting that other than actually starting to build these organic channels from, from day one. Charles (23:40): Yeah. And the nice part is, like you said, compared to just SEO, it can grow a lot faster if you kind of find that, like that hook. I’ve seen people, we had a user here a while back and they emailed us just friend little notice, Hey, we’re launching they work with all the influencers we’re launching so-and-so on Thursday and we’re thinking and I don’t know who that, I don’t know who that person is, but okay, cool. And they turned it on and it was like a plug it open. And I’m like, Oh, I should probably look, I should probably know who this person is like this influencer. And it was someone in tech talk. I still don’t know what they even do, but it’s impressive. You see some of these numbers and like the orders just flooding in were really it was something. So if you, yeah, if you’re on there and you have the following, you just, you know, start selling Luke’s candles and all of a sudden you get your candle store going. And it’s great. So Speaker 3 (24:31): It’s great. And I think honestly, you know, and it it’s trends of course, but you know, they’re, they’re, you know, Instagram used to used to do the same thing, but in this point in time, right now, there’s honestly nothing like tech talk in terms of how quickly you can go viral. When my personal opinion, you know, there’s accounts after accounts that are doing very simple, basic things, but people love it. People love it, and it’s going crazy. And like you said, you know, the numbers are, mind-boggling just how quickly they can grow. And, you know, if that’s something that you’re able to build up, even if you’re getting, you know, in the tens of thousands of followers and likes, that’s sending traffic to your website and guess what, you’re building content in the background. It’s not costing you anything to do it. And that’s also going to help you when you come to paid ads and you’re building this whole ecosystem of different networks and social media profiles, that’s going to allow you to really build that strong foundation for your e-commerce brand. Charles (25:25): Yep. I guess. Yeah. So data let’s get into that. I like the data section. What do you do with all this data? Right. Because I feel like there’s, there’s two sides. People that don’t look at it and then people that go like data crazy and you install something like that’s a good one on like Google analytics or some of these different things, like time on page and you get some of these, you know, data points. You’re like, what do I even draw time on page? Do I want that number to go up, but do I want to go down? Like, what do I even do with these numbers? So like, how do you use data to actually make decisions? Speaker 3 (25:56): So that’s a really good question. You’re absolutely right. You know, I, there’s two things I wanted to talk about with data. It’s obviously what data should you have as an e-commerce brand and what should you be looking to acquire? And at the same time, how would you interpret that data? Like you said, Charles. So I think when it comes to interpreting data, if we go with that first it’s, especially, let’s look at paid ads. You know, if we’re looking at Facebook and Instagram, because, you know, that’s majority of where people start, when it comes with paid ads, it makes sense, you know, largest audiences on there. It’s going to tell you a lot about your brand and your users’ experience. Again, that’s in relation to the Facebook pixel. So where are people getting held up when they land on your website? Speaker 3 (26:38): Are they, you know, staying on the homepage and then clicking off your website or hang on a second, are they actually staying on your homepage, reading everything and then making their way through to the, you know, the, the potential hot buyer areas. So, you know, looking at products, adding to cart, initiate checkout, when you start to see the rhythm, if you like of people actually landing on your website, and you’re starting to see the ratio from view content, add to cart, initiate checkout, and you can see this smooth progress. Of course, it’s going to decline, you know, you’re onto something good, but it’s also going to, on the same time on the reverse side of things, allow you to see potentially where you’ve got these holdups, where you’ve got these bottlenecks that are preventing you from you know, increasing the conversion rate for one, but also improving the bar experience at the same time. Charles (27:23): Yeah. And I think what I’ve always done with data is just from day one, just start collecting as much as you can, but don’t focus on just almost nothing at the beginning, just collect data. And then at some point when you’re ready to start optimizing, just find like that one or two data points that you’re just trying to optimize going from this page to that page, going from, you know, the product page to a checkout page. Like that’s the only thing you care about at that point, optimize that and then move on. And I think a lot of people got hung up on, they’re just looking at all these numbers and you get overwhelmed very quickly. Speaker 3 (27:54): Absolutely. And like you said, it’s, you know, data’s not something you can control. You just have to, you know, the most important thing is to make sure that you have a way to collect it. If you have the, the, the infrastructure in place to collect the data, you’re in a good point, but you’re going to drive yourself crazy. If you think you can control the amount of data and the type of data you’re getting through and whether that’s good or bad data. And that’s another thing, you know, w whether the data you’re collecting is good or bad, and there’s definitely ways that you can ensure it to certain extent that it is good data you’re getting, and there are ways as well that you need to be careful because, you know, there are certain ways that you can use paid ads that unfortunately will drive bad data to your website. Speaker 3 (28:34): And unfortunately the pixel collects that, and that can lead to problems down the line. But you’re right. There are the, the biggest thing when it comes to data and interpreting it in my personal opinion is like you said, don’t get distracted by the bells and whistles telling you someone’s been on this page. And they were looking at this page for five seconds. It’s okay. To a certain extent, it’s going to tell you a little bit, but it’s not going to give you the overall picture. And then, you know, from that point of view, I would really focus on the main, the main stages in the buyer’s process, and always relate it back to that buyer’s process. So they’d land on your website. They go to the product page, they potentially add it to cart. They go to checkout and start initiating checkout. And obviously, hopefully they complete the purchase. And that’s what you should really be focusing on on a day-to-day basis. Everything else of course can be looked into more detail, but as long as you’re looking and tracking that data, that’s going to give you everything. You need to start building a converting website. Charles (29:29): Yep. I like that one tip. I found too when you’re starting off start with Google tag manager, Google tag manager GTM from day one. I see a lot of people don’t do that. And you install you’re, ah, just cool on what X and then, all right, we’ll do the Facebook pixel and like, all right, we’ll do this other pixel. And then by whatever point a year from now, you’re like, Oh, we have like 30 pixels on the site. And you’re just trying to like change one. And what goes, where, and then worst case you bring some on a marketing and then every pixel change, they need to email like someone with different access. And it breaks something like if you install tag management day one, it just gives you this really nice place. And it’s a little confusing at first, but, you know, if you’re, if you’ve never used it, but then you give to the marketing person later, they’re like, Oh, thank you for they. Like, they’re all universally excited about that. So that’s one of those things just started from day one. Cause a lot of stuff is difficult to set up and requires tweaking over time. Speaker 3 (30:21): Absolutely. A hundred percent agree with that. You know, and, and funny enough, you know, talking more about as an agency, you know, that’s, that’s one of our qualification processes. We, we need to know that you have the data and, you know, from an e-commerce owner’s point of view that just letting you know how important data is, if we don’t have that data to use, there’s, there’s no way that we can even think or, or, or guarantee any source of results because the data is going to tell everything and tell us everything that we need to know. Charles (30:49): There’s no baseline, right? So you can’t, you can’t say we’re going, we increased X percent because you don’t know where you’re starting from. So there’s no, yeah. There’s nothing to work with. Right. Speaker 3 (30:56): And I think, you know, a lot of people will agree in marketing, you know, no matter your personal preference about a product or however, anything looks, you know, you can, you can look at a product and think it’s the best products in the world, but if there’s no data to back that up, you know, more often than not people are wrong from their initial preferences, you know, when, when you start getting it out there to the big wide world and you start testing things, that’s when you really start to see actually what works and what doesn’t work, having these presumptions before it gets out there can often be the wrong thing Charles (31:26): When you mentioned bad data. What’s an example of dash, like where would actually cause more issues on harm than good. Speaker 3 (31:33): Absolutely. So you know, this, this, the easiest way or the, the most common way that we come across, this is when it, when we’re running paid ads, you know, specifically talking about Facebook and Instagram here again you know, it’s just, you know, thinking about the, the, the campaign objective you know, obviously the most, the most common one is conversions, but then, you know, a lot of people will use or have used traffic in the past. And that’s, you know, that can be because of a lack of knowledge or it can just be down to the fact that they want to, you know, achieve results for the lowest cost possible. And the problem is with, you know, not understanding the difference in both of those objectives is that actually traffic can sometimes lead to driving the wrong people to the website. Speaker 3 (32:15): Cause Facebook is simply, you know, driving people to your website. They’re going to take a certain action, but unfortunately the truth, you know, 90% of the time is that they aren’t actually going to be the particular audience that are going to be buying from you on a regular basis. So yes, you’re going to get more data coming through, but the data you’re getting is painting or unrealistic picture. And that’s the thing, you know, again, talking about data and looking data you shouldn’t be so fixated all the time on, you know, whether your numbers are huge or big. It’s actually, you know, how, how trustworthy is this data I’m looking at? Because you could have, you know, a hundred thousand website visitors in a month, but if you’re driving that traffic from a source, that makes no sense. And as an end result, they’re not going to be purchasing from you. All that data is going to do is sway the data that actually matters. So in comparison to a thousand legit customers that have a very high chance from buying from you, that’s going to tell you a lot more than a hundred thousand unrelated buyers word. Charles (33:12): Yeah. I think when, and I don’t know if you could still do this on Facebook, just say campaign, objective lights, like I just want likes to my page and you do stuff like that. You underestimate, there’s just people out there that like doing that thing, like liking a page or just clicking on an ad. They don’t buy. Like, they definitely don’t buy it, but they love clicking on ads or love liking pages. And I’ve run some of those just as kind of a test and seen like, who are these people? And then you go to their page and you realize they like maybe a thousand different pages. It’s like, they just like pay, like, that’s what they do with that day. So whatever objective you pick Facebook will find people that will do that thing real well. And like you said, if it’s clicking on something, they they’re good at finding people that like to click on buttons. But yeah, it trying to get people to actually put them in a cart. Those are much, much more difficult to find. And you’re gonna need a lot more data, a lot more time, a lot more money. So Speaker 3 (34:04): Exactly. And it’s, you know, like you said, that that’s one objective also engagement, you know, like you said, Facebook finds people that are going to put random comments on your, on your ad, which is it. And that’s another story, you know, just how they do that. And, you know you know, it’s incredible that they can, but the problem is is that yes, it can be good for certain things, but again, you have to be aware that actually, if you’re using that as your main, as your main method to driving traffic to a website, it can lead to problems down the line. Charles (34:31): It’s a tool, right? It’s a, it’s a toolbox and you have a tool now when you run a new ad, starting off with an engagement campaign just to make it right. No one wants to see the ad. And you’re like, Oh, there’s zero likes. And no one commented on it. Cool. Like you just kind of move on, but when you look and you’re like, Oh, there’s, you know, 700 likes, 50 comments, they’re all these like positive things. Maybe there’s something going on here. So using that engagement as a tool at the beginning to just generate engagement, but realize like, I’m not going to get any sales. I’m just making my ad look, you know, decorating my ads. Exactly. Yeah. Speaker 3 (35:01): And it’s just understanding that it’s just understanding that and when is the point to use it and when is the point of then, you know, switch to, to the right strategy. And there’s obviously, you know, aiming for conversions and collecting the right data. So yeah, absolutely. On the same page. Charles (35:13): Yeah. I think a lot of people, the first time you see those objectives and you’re like, what, like, it’s just like overwhelmed. And I think that is a benefit of going with an agency of someone that says, okay, we’re going to run an engagement campaign for the first three days, get a bunch of likes, then we’re going to add get some clips through there just to kind of get people on the site to Rican, retarget them. Then we’ll go into our actual, you know, the big campaign we’re going to really kind of double on exactly whatever your process is, but at least someone with a process, right? Speaker 3 (35:42): Yeah. And you know, this is the other thing as well, you know, over the last, you know, especially, you know, every year it’s getting more and more competitive on, on these paid ads platforms, you know, it’s, you know, even, even maybe four or five years ago when I honestly was just starting out, you could, you could pretty much throw money at Facebook and you would somewhat see some sort of return, you know, but in this, that now fast forward to now, it’s honestly not the case. And I think that’s a big miss misconception is that it’s, it’s as easy as just placing money on Facebook and you’re going to see a return. It’s just understanding it’s not as simple as that. And it’s for your own benefit as well. You know, doing it right from day one is going to allow you down the line to reach Heights that you just wouldn’t imagine. Charles (36:24): So last but not least money, what is that about? That’s an issue. I think people don’t realize how money works in e-commerce when you go into it. You think it’s a money printing machine and you realize that when you’re scaling up, it’s a money like eating machine. Oddly. So tell me about money. Speaker 3 (36:40): It’s absolutely. It’s like a, it’s like a car, right? It’s like a, it’s like an ongoing expense. Like you, you know, you get a puncture, you have to, you know, you have to change something on the car. It’s, it’s constantly expense. And I think like you said, Charles is like a lot of people when they first open the e-commerce store, it’s like, Oh, Roaz, I’m doubling my money. They just, it’s just thinking about it even down to the inventory level. Yes. You’re doubling your money, but now you’ve got customers that are demanding a product from you. You now need to have inventory that you you’re purchasing for and, you know, preparing for that inventory in advance. And that means in essence, at least for the first six months, you need to be prepared to be out of pocket a lot of the time because you’re playing catch up yes. Speaker 3 (37:22): Down the line. That’s when you can see these amazing money printing machine examples, but definitely, you know, money is something that at the beginning, it’s not, again, there are examples out there where you can start with a very small budget and people have turned it into millions and millions dollars back. But on the whole, there has to be a certain expectation that actually, if you’re pumping money in, you need to be doing on the right reasons and just going full circle with this. You know, if I’m first starting out in those first 39, 30 to 90 days as an e-commerce brand, you know, the way I like to look at it that first, you know, two to $3,000 I have, if I had to put a price tag on it, they’re going to be focused fully on getting my assets 100% or to the best of my ability ready for real serious traffic. Speaker 3 (38:10): And like I said, I’m talking about website, I’m talking about making sure I have the right content. And I have the right social proof. They’re the biggest assets and also data, sorry that they’re the four main assets that I would really want to make sure I had in place. Once I’ve got those assets and you have, you know, you know, you have then money to invest into paid ads. Absolutely. Go ahead and do it, but also be prepared to, to not see a return straight away and why you see people still working a nine to five alongside, right. Because it’s not something that you can quit your job nine to five straight away in most cases. Because you have to have that certain expectation. That’s going to take time to build up to a point where the profits you’re making makes sense to take it full time. Charles (38:52): Yeah. I see a lot of interesting stuff going on now about just investment in e-commerce from like a line of credit perspective. And a lot of folks are starting to do different things around this. And I think that’s one of the next big things, right? Where you have folks and you can start a store easily. You could start collecting that data. You can start getting those baselines, but then when you actually say, okay, let’s jump in the pool head first, then all of a sudden you look and you’re like, Oh, we need like a war chest to really do this. We need to really like our ad spend could be thousands, tens of thousands per month, weekday at some point. And as that ramps up, you’re gonna have to buy more inventory. And then you gonna have to spend more on ads with more inventory. Charles (39:30): And there’s just this ongoing, like cash eating machine. So I think there’s a lot of people out there and I think there’ll be services come up in the next few years on lines of credit or just ways of them looking at order flow data, analyzing and say, okay, we can give you a line of 40 K or whatever that number is to then be able to increase. And if that works then go up from there, because I think that’s a wall as soon as, as soon as you have a little success, that’s a wall, a lot of people here. Speaker 3 (39:55): Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that’s the thing, you know, the first year in any business, there’s always going to be one of the hardest. And you know, it’s, it’s just having, it’s just understanding that, you know, it’s, it’s not, it’s not that, like you said, cash making machine. But at the same time, you know, you know, this isn’t, this isn’t to put people off from, you know, running, you know, running in trialing, you know, e-comm stores like fruit, you know, hand on heart. It’s one of the best things that you can do at this current point in time. But it’s just knowing that actually don’t expect, you know, within the first three months to have a fully fledged, you know, established e-commerce brand, that’s going to be able to sustain you. And your lifestyle is actually something that, you know, it has to be treated like a brand. Speaker 3 (40:37): It’s something that has to be built up over time has a journey. And you have to be prepared to go with there on that journey. And as long as you always remain on that core idea as to why you have this product and why you’re selling it, you’re going to be in for the longterm. And I think that’s the biggest thing is, you know, you have to have a brand that you’re passionate about. It’s like anything, you know, when you’re, when you’re growing up, it’s like, you know, make sure you try and find a job or a career that you enjoy because then you’ll never have to work at Daniel life. And it’s finding something like that, that you’re passionate about, because I think as long as you’re passionate about it, you’re not there to just rush and make quick money. That’s not the way that e-commerce works. But that being said, if you understand how it works in the time that it does take the benefits are endless. Charles (41:21): Yeah. I think that’s a great place to end us. And I think most people, if you’re getting into it, just get into it, knowing that this is going to take, you know, I, I could be in this five to 10 years, so this needs to be something like I can pitch myself waking up eight from now and like doing this and the job is going to change, but you’re going to be still working. You’re going to be solving this problem for years to come. So you just make sure it’s something you can do that on, but absolutely. Yeah. I think that’s super helpful if people want to kind of see what you guys are working on. So tell me more about the agency and what do you guys do though? Speaker 3 (41:51): Yeah. Perfect. So yeah, we obviously work with e-commerce and also info-product brands, predominantly e-commerce brands. You know, we really specialize in helping brands that want to take it to that next level. So a lot of brands are coming to us you know, a lot, a lot more recently because of, you know, the pandemic and everything in those early stages. And we have, we actually have a very good support team in place that actually allow them to basically free up their money while still getting the support they need. Right. I think that’s the most important thing is that getting an agency isn’t always going to be the most economically wise choice to do at the beginning. And that’s why we actually have two main services. The main service is obviously a done for you program. And these are for the brands that, you know, have got past that sort of 90 day stage and have really starting to see sales come in. Speaker 3 (42:40): And a bit like we touched on earlier, Charles is, you know, now they’re starting to deal with serious inventory issues and making sure that all of these different moving parts are aligning that’s when you know, the right time is to come in for a done for you package. That being said, though, like I said, there’s a huge demand for people wanting to start their own e-commerce brand. And the other side to our businesses is helping those people without, you know, having these huge monthly retainers it’s actually giving the ability to have, you know, world-class support and guidance from our coaches that have their own e-commerce stores as well. And being able to take that to the next level and we give them full support from actually setting up their own initial campaigns, how to optimize them, how to scale them. And at the same time, just giving overall good business advice as well. Charles (43:23): And what does that like a monthly coaching program sort of thing? Speaker 3 (43:26): It is it’s actually a six weeks intense training program. And then after that we have ongoing support. That’s basically, you know, as part again of a Facebook group and we have four to five weekly calls where, like I said, coaches, join, jump on. We have a special guest speakers at jump on again, talking about their own experience and their own e-commerce brands. And sometimes it can be about particular topics, you know, you know, a website conversion rate, for example, someone, you know, we have website specialists coming in and really, you know, one-to-one analyzing, you know, what’s going on on someone’s website, potentially how we can start improving that convert. Charles (43:59): Right. Yeah. I always liked the idea of having kind of groups, whether it’s coaching or a mastermind or just some group you’re in some community where you’re going to have these odd challenges. Like there was something the other day I was sending, I was wiring money to whatever country and I’m like, I don’t know. I don’t know how to apply money from here to there. Like I’ve just never done that. And I’m in a couple of groups and they’re like closed groups and just kind of ping people on there and you’re like, Hey, I’m trying to do this. And there’s like multiple people that like, Oh yeah, I wire money there all the time. You’re like, Oh, great. Okay, thanks. Here’s what I use has a service, how much I pay, like, thank you. So like you could go around for, you know, all this stuff, right? Like what when you start a new Facebook campaign, like what objectives should I use? Like you can go and watch videos, but it is nice having someone there that you can kind of just ping and be like, Hey, here’s what I’m working on. What do I do? And you just get an answer a lot faster. So Speaker 3 (44:49): Absolutely at the end of the day, you know, any sort of, you know, coaching, anything that’s out there is on the internet. You know, that’s, that’s how everybody learned. You know, a lot of people learn is for YouTube ads. It’s one of the best resources that everyone has available. But you know, the, the coaching side of it is that, you know, if you want the ability to, to know where you’re potentially stepping off the track and you don’t want to spend months, months, and thousands of thousands of dollars, figuring out those own mistakes yourself, where the ones that are going to be able to put you and keep you on that track so that you can reach success as soon as possible. But you’re absolutely right with, you know, that community feeling. It’s, it’s something that going online is definitely different to the brick and mortar that we spoke about right at the beginning. Speaker 3 (45:28): You know, you couldn’t imagine almost having a tight knit community and having a Facebook group, you know, with, with, you know, let’s say for example, you know, supermarkets competing, you wouldn’t imagine them being on the same group, whereas even on a, on a Facebook group, like our coaching group, you know, you have people that are trying to run their own e-commerce stores, but there’s no, there’s no direct competition. And I think that’s the nicest thing about it is that there isn’t, there isn’t any, you know, love or hate relationship. Everyone is able to help each other, every there’s enough room for everyone to succeed, as well as the big thing. Charles (45:59): Love it. Okay. If people want to kind of find you reach out, if there’s more questions, what can they do that? Yep. Speaker 3 (46:04): So two places we’ve, we’ve got a scope, 16 marketing Instagram page, and also Facebook page. But please feel free to reach out to me at Luke Simmons. I’m on Instagram as well. And we’ll, we’ll get you speaking to the team. Charles (46:17): Awesome, Luke. Thanks a lot for coming on. Appreciate it. Thank you very much.
30 minutes | Mar 2, 2021
How to Ship 2-day and Next-day Without Breaking the Bank (E159)
https://www.youtube.com/embed/2T14dthjDOc Michael Sene Director of Sales at Deliverr Bio: Michael Sene is the Director of Sales with Deliverr. He works with more than a dozen fulfillment specialists, oversees the onboarding of all new sellers, and helps those sellers increase revenue through current and new sales channels. Sponsors: Spark Shipping Links: https://deliverr.com Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the Business of eCommerce I talk with Michael Sene about how to ship today or next day without breaking the bank. This is a business e-commerce episode 159. Charles (00:19): Welcome to the Business of eCommerce the show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow their e-commerce business. I’m Charles and I’m here today with Michael Sene. Michael is the director of sales at deliver where they help retailers get faster next day or two day shipping on all their products. I think they’re doing something new here, and it’s pretty interesting to see how, as a independent retailer, you can actually get next day, two day shipping to try to really compete with the big guys like an Amazon or a Walmart. And this is something that’s becoming more and more important in the game of retail. Now folks are expecting it and it’s something that people are just becoming very used to. So they’ve really changed the model they’re using technology to do this. I think it’s kind of interesting chat to kind of go into how they’re doing this and to put some thought into where as a retailer, you want to be now, and in the future, when maybe the expectation goes from two days to one day or one hour, wherever it is. And he kind of talks about that and kind of get you in that mind space of thinking, what do I want to be now and in the future. So it’s going to show, so, Hey, Michael, how are you doing today? I’m Michael (01:25): Doing great. I’m doing great. Thanks for having me. Charles (01:27): Yeah. Awesome. I have you on, I think this topic is very timely on fast shipping. This is, this is the era of the whole shipping pocalypse where we’ve seen a lot of people struggle with this. So it’s good to kind of talk through this. Speaker 2 (01:41): So we’re talking. Oh yeah. It’s it’s Charles (01:45): I think Amazon, especially this year has kind of got us all addicted to like quick shipping, right? So two day shipping, we talk about that next day shipping. And I think a lot of retailers want to provide this on their own and everyone’s kind of struggling to, how do I get from my standard ups ground? You know, that could take a week and try to like, bring that down to close it, to match Amazon or compete. And you can pay that you can pay for air obviously, but doing that affordably, I think it’s kind of a trick and I think you have some experience with us, right? Michael (02:17): Yeah, I do. I think you bring up a great point just to start. When you think about the problem is you need to do it at a low rate and really fast. And I think everyone’s trying to tackle this problem from your big retailer to your smaller Shopify merchants, your e-commerce merchants on marketplace. Everyone’s trying to solve this. I think the issue is they’re taking at it the wrong approach, right? When you think about it to get today at a low rate, your items need to be in at least four to five warehouses to get next day and same day, your items need to be in 10 to 18 different warehouses. And a lot of large retailers are overly invested in their current setup. That’s for retail, right? And the position of their FCS are not in the right places. So, you know, getting to that same day or next day is a, is a massive challenge of capital that you would have to invest in. Michael (03:07): And your smaller merchant, you know, naturally wants to do this, but doesn’t have the capability. And then when you think about companies that are offering this, you really have, Amazon is the only one. And when you think about what deliver has is we have an asset light model. So we’re able to expand a lot quicker. We noticed this problem. You can’t just throw money at this problem. It has to be something where you connect a lot of FCS together, together, a lot of warehouses, and you create that network to be able to access next day and same day and offer a very low fulfillment rate. And that’s the only way you can really tackle it. Either you have an asset light model or an extremely asset heavy model. And the other thing is you need lots of carriers. The traditional model is you have one, one or two carrier agreements, ups or FedEx, the norm. When you think about Amazon, they have sortation centers and the item leaves those. And it goes directly to the person they don’t, you know, utilize one or two carriers. Essentially every truck is its own carrier. And so you need to address it at that length as well on the carrier end and for deliver. We we’re fortunate enough to work with at least nine carriers and we’re adding more regional carriers national carriers, and that allows us to get lower rates and access that, you know, fast fulfillment that that people want. Charles (04:22): Hm. Okay. So I want to make sure a couple of terms out FCS fulfillment centers, farrowing, that kind of missed that part. And then we said asset level, asset heavy versus asset life we’re talking fulfillment centers is like having physical, like distribution in your like owning the distribution chain. Yeah. Michael (04:37): I mean, when you think about a traditional fulfillment company, you’re tasked with the decision of expanding, building a warehouse buying property, that’s extremely asset heavy. You have to hire the folks. And, and right now there’s a lot of warehouses in the country that are willing to, you know, work into a network like deliver and partner in a sense where we can actually utilize them into a network that we control end to end. The best way to put it is, think about Uber. When you had the taxis, you had multiple different taxi companies and what did Uber do? They connected all the drivers together. So that way, when you requested one, you were getting a driver that was in your neighborhood, not 30 miles away, like the ages of the taxi, where you would have to call someone and wait an hour. Charles (05:20): If you’re an independent retail, though, you’re trying to string together these different fulfillment centers. You know, if they want, let’s say they want to do it themselves. Is there even a way to do that? Like, you know, cause you’re sightseeing, like you could go to each fulfillment center and when you said, actually let those numbers you at the beginning, how many would you need to do next day? Michael (05:38): You need to, you need to do at least 10 to 18 warehouses to get a low rate next day fulfillment. Right? Could you air, you could air ship it, but they’re just never there. Right. So, yeah. Charles (05:52): So you’re saying 10 to 18 days, and that gets you taking the same item 10 days in to spread around the country, enough of places where you could basically do ground from any point to that. Michael (06:03): Correct. All carriers ground. So like when I order an item off deliver any of our sellers, we’re using the liver, we have an I’m here in the Bay area. There’s a warehouse less than 50 miles away. So that items typically coming from that warehouse and I can get it tomorrow. Charles (06:17): Yeah. I think this is probably the one thing where the one competitor, Amazon, when you say Walmart where their fulfillment centers are just their stores. And I think there’s some statistic where like 85% of the American population is within like 20 minutes of a Walmart. Like some like amazing. So like they literally, you know, they have, I don’t know how many thousands of these, and they’re basically using those as their fulfillment centers, but unless you have that sort of network, like how as an independent retailer, are you literally just copying out your product to, you know, 10 different warehouses across the country? Michael (06:49): Yeah. I mean, well currently a lot of retailers are still using one or two and air shipping, maybe eating the costs, maybe not even offering free two day or free next day because the margins just aren’t there. I think everyone wants to, and I think your larger retailers at least have the space. You think about, you know, free whole foods today, two hour delivery, they blocked off those, you know, stores to actually do that. You have that section, a lot of retailers do have space that they could potentially do that doesn’t solve the carrier issue. Right. You still have to tap into multiple carriers. So you’re still kind of limited, but you’re every other e-commerce retailer has, you know, you’re your only option is really to go through a fulfillment provider like deliver or really a traditional one that maybe has two or three or four different FCS. Now that will. And when I say FCS, I mean warehouses. And even if you do that, you’re kind of set up for today. But the question you should have is in 2021, am I set up for next day, come the next year, right? So you may get your fulfillment set up for today, but you know, we’re all expecting next day to be the norm. It already is on Amazon. And so how do you keep up? You have to have your item and more warehouses and more carriers. Charles (07:59): So why, why do the carriers come into play so much? I get the warehouses, right? Like, so you have to just spread around more, just physically closer to folks. But the carrier thing, is it just because there’s regional carriers that are cheaper than the big guys, Michael (08:10): That’s one point sometimes they’re more affordable. Sometimes incurrent areas they’re more reliable. If you look at last year, a lot of folks were hit by shipping again. And because maybe they relied on one or two carriers and when those carriers get delayed, how are you utilizing other carriers? And so I believe that we, you know, in the future are moving towards a model where you can have 50 carriers, a hundred carriers, maybe the concept of a carrier may not even be what you normally think of as a FedEx or ups. Right. and you saw Amazon do that right? With, with, with carriers as they expanded their network. Right now you see the Amazon van, but everyone realizing there was the time where it wasn’t the Amazon ban, you had flex and some you know, places they were utilizing to carry packages. Charles (09:00): Yeah. I think they still have random, like the random dude that comes up to your house and you’re like, Oh, is this guy come up to like hug me? And you’re like, Oh, here’s your Amazon package? And like, Oh, okay. Michael (09:10): And the other day it was like packed to the brim with Amazon packages and they were delivering. Right. So you know, and I think they control that, that end to end. Right. So they can utilize those. And, and I think it’s fair to say that we have to accept to get to next day, same day, let’s call it same hour, potentially at some point you’re going to have to utilize that kind of network. Charles (09:29): Okay. So the goal, but the kind of, the name of the game is just getting the, getting the items physically as close as you can so that you can pretty much do ground as many orders as you can. Michael (09:37): Right? Yeah. Got it. So it was note on now, too, it’s a part of our network. What we’ve seen is it’s, it’s a positioning of inventory problem, right. Because one of the questions we always get is, well, even though I split my inventory, you guys are going to put them, how do I inform you where it goes, if I know more orders are here and less orders are in this region, well, when you connect to a product like ours, we analyze that data. So when you’re creating an inbound, we’re actually deciding where they’re going. Because it is a product placement issue, right? W w you don’t want to send the same amount to the LA area that you would send to, you know, maybe Texas, you want us to split it up accordingly. And so for us, we have merchants who just say, I’m going to send in one month of inventory, you know, and we split it across our, our network. Charles (10:26): How do you guys determine that? Right? Because let’s say I’m selling, right? Let’s say I’m sending a thousand bathing suits. And I’m sitting here in Boston. They’re probably not showing up very many at like a Boston warehouse right now. They’re probably all going South. Like, how do, how would you know, going into it, if you have product knowledge to understand, Hey, they’re selling, you know, a warm weather product, or how do you actually do that analysis? Michael (10:47): There’s a few things. One when you’re connecting to delivery, you’re connecting your sales channel. So we are analyzing data. Historically, we don’t have historical. We actually create a product roadmap in the first 30 days to understand, Hey, where should this item be placed on future replenishments? And we’ll probably utilize data like population density, if we have no historicals things like that, right. If we have any data on the SKU, we’ll try to configure that way. The beauty of delivery is we’re charging one fixed rate. So the onus is on us to position it accordingly, right? If we don’t position it accordingly, we pay more at the end and, and the, you know, the merchant pays the same price. So it’s an interesting concept, right? Where are you at a flat rate? And we’re, we’re going to be the ones who position control at end to end very similar to Uber. Right now, you get one flat rate. They tell you what it costs, and they get you the lowest possible rate. And that’s why people like it. Charles (11:41): So you guys, so just to go deliver a little bit, cause it’s kind of interesting. So you guys are actually taking basically the risk on with an, his, an order and you know, it’s going to be five bucks. And if it’s six, like if you guys pay the six and that’s the end, but the retailer, they know that costs going into us. Exactly. Oh, very bad. How do you, like, how do you actually achieve that? Or how can a retailer do to do this themselves? Or is it just, you guys are basically like doing enough of this, where you can absorb that risk. Michael (12:15): We’ve done enough of it. We have enough data to understand what carrier reliability times are, what carrier rates are when you combine multiple carrier rates. I mean, you just think about your average, let’s call it package, going from Dallas to Chicago. We’re analyzing that trend every hour, every day, understanding when that’s reliable on ground, when it’s not what the rates are. And so we can come up with an all inclusive fixed costs, be very confident about that cost and pass the forth. A good example of this is last quarter packages. We upped our rates 20 cents across the board. And the reason why is we knew we could absorb that cost and balance it out. And so it’s just a lot, it’s a data issue and a placement issue. Charles (12:59): Yeah. I feel like the data thing, I always talk to retailers who get this, where you get your you know, ups and FedEx built into the month. And you’re like, Oh, this should have cost me, you know, $8. And you look and they’re like, Oh, it’s like a fuel surcharge. And like a, something, something surcharge, you know, like, like what are the ones like 38 cents, but one’s like $4. And you’re like, what are these fees? If you have a breakdown, it’s pretty much like, you don’t know what the Bill’s going to be, just get at the end of month. You’re like, all right, whatever. Like, I guess they’re right. You can’t, and you can’t really argue with that. Cause like, I don’t know if they sent me a fuel surcharge fee. So you guys just kinda like deal with all those random fees and blend them into somehow. Michael (13:33): Yeah. Well, what’s interesting too, like about our service on the fast fulfillment side, if you, you know, we have two rates for today and the reason why you have a fixed today, which is guaranteed, if you want it, you know, we’ll air ship it. If it needs to be. And it’s a higher today rate, but we have our most popular product, which is just a website today or similar to, you know, Walmart today or is similar to the prime badge. Right? When you think about that, that badge changes depending on where you’re at on prime. If you look at one item in Arizona versus one item in California, the speed will be different. We’re doing the same thing with that badge across people’s sites. So they will often take advantage of our badging software. We’ll give them a lower fixed rate, but the understanding is that we’re going to do everything we can to have that badge turned on on your site. Michael (14:23): And we’re going to control that. And in cases where we can guarantee that we’ll get it tomorrow, we’ll actually switch it to tomorrow and you don’t even have to pay a one day rate. You’ll pay a two day rate. Our goal is to get that package as quickly as possible, because if we do that, you’ll get more orders. And if you get more orders, you win, we win. We all win. Right? So that’s the name of the game. So a lot of people take advantage of what we call our fast tag product, which is we control the end to end of what your buyer sees. So they’ll either see today, next day or, or they won’t see any badge. If we have any issues come up that we have to pull the badge for, for like, let’s say a day like today, maybe there’s an issue in one city. We’ll pull the badge. Charles (15:04): That’s yeah. That’s neat. Cause you always, with the Amazon, for example, they have a one of the fulfillment centers is quite literally like down the street. So I know here, if I’m logged in from here, I see like same day shipping, but if I’m traveling and I was like, Oh, this is product same day. And then I realized, Oh, it’s cause I live next to a fulfillment center. So it’s just, yeah, like quite literally just changes based on where I am and yeah, you see, and you see that when you play with that, that depending on you moving the country drastically changes from same day to whatever. It goes way farther out. Why do you see three pills? Not doing a lot of this themselves. Cause like there’s been three pills around for a while that have these networks and they kind of, you know, maybe they had a dozen warehouses. Why do you kind of see other three pills not offering this? Or are they willing to this model? Michael (15:51): Yeah. I mean, I know we have, we’ve heard from some three PLS that I’ve always kind of said, Hey, we want it to do something like this. I think there’s there’s obviously a capital issue. You have to have the capital to do it. There’s a technology problem that that needs to happen. There’s also operational changes that needs to happen. And traditional three PLS. When you think about a traditional three PL model, they’re really set up for having one or two bays, you have a FedEx truck come up once a day. You put the packages in the packages, go to a sortation center, gets sorted and potentially the product even makes its way back closer to that fulfillment center, right? So you have this long lag of going back and forth. And, and when you think about the next day saying they model things need to go out quickly. Michael (16:33): They need to really be sorted at that place and be sent directly. And I think that’s the challenge that you know, that, that a lot of retailers have and, and even small businesses have. And, and, you know, Amazon’s obviously mastered this and, and you know, I think that’s, that’s kind of why you don’t see a lot of tra traditional fulfillment centers, whether they have one or two or three locations, I think they are getting better at maybe doing today. My kind of hypothesis those by the time people are, are getting at least good at today at a low rate next day will just be the norm. So, you know, it’s like, how are you thinking ahead of the game versus how do I catch up to, to what the norm was last year? Charles (17:12): Well, I think Amazon, sorry, not Amazon Walmart in certain places come out with two hour. I think that’s like, yeah, if they can do that, you’re yeah. You’re at some different level on like, like how people are going to be a bash cause the two hour it’s quite literally it’s going on a store shelf. So someone’s was just getting in a car and driving. It’s like a one-to-one with somebody getting in there, getting off the shelf, getting a car and just driving to your house, putting it on your doorstep and then driving back and getting another one. Like how people are happy with bash. Are we really talking like instead of using carriers, is it just like, you know, Fred is coming in his car and delivering it, is that the next thing happening here? I Michael (17:50): Would not be surprised. I definitely think that’s in the works. Right. I think that’s definitely something you will see in the next year. Right. And I think when you look at like you know, you’re right, two hours, I’m so used to that on, on Amazon’s whole food prime, two hour delivery here in the Bay area. But when you look at, you know, like even Walmart, if they’re doing it fast, it’s a lot of their one piece selection. So question is how do you enable any seller that the three piece seller, right? The seller who has their own website, and they’re trying to start their own business to compete with that. You need to utilize a diversified carrier and fulfillment network. That’s the only way you’re ever going to be. The only other option is if your price point is so high and your margins are so good that you’re, you’re comfortable air shipping in most cases, that’s not the, that’s not the case. So you do have to rely on diversified network and carrier network. Charles (18:40): Yeah. Because once you start doing that, okay, now you’re going to rip into your margin unless you have something very expensive in life. Right. That’s kind of the, the two-prong. Yes. Yeah. It has to be expensive, like small where a shipping. I think I was air shipping something one time it was a piece of machinery and the, you get the rating. You’re like, this is almost, and it needs to be something across someone purchased it for, I think it was a wedding and it needed to get there. So like, all right, that’s a good pay for. Like it’s like the cost of the product itself. Someone’s even more. And that’s continental us. If you go to Alaska or Hawaii, this, you know, pick a number, pick a large number. What if that looks like? And Oh yeah, yeah. Do you guys do Michael (19:19): Yeah. Most, I mean, most of our products that we fulfill and in fast speeds are like, you know, today, or, sorry, they’re like $25, you know, $30. So they’re not, you know, your basic items. Yeah. Charles (19:31): How about for a more expensive item? Does that kind of matter? Cause then you’d have to buy more of them is kind of the challenge. And you know, now like the, to spread this, to spread this number of items are on the country. You theoretically need a lot of them. Right. So you can’t just start going with a, you know, a thousand units. Like it wouldn’t even, it wouldn’t be enough to go to each warehouse or whatever. Michael (19:51): No, I mean a thousand units would be enough. Our, our minimum is, you know, our minimum. We actually don’t really even have a minimum. We just warn you that, Hey, for sending in one item, one unit, you’re not going to get covered. So, so we don’t even have a minimum. People have tested us out with 10 units really. So just test. Okay. And I, I don’t recommend that necessarily, but you know, if people want to test it, they could you know, because you kind of go through the process of setting up, you might as well give it a fair shot of like at least a month’s worth of inventory. But yeah, people have tested it out and you don’t need a whole lot. We’re once again, we’re taking a month’s worth and we’re splitting it. So you don’t have to think, you know, a lot of times people will say, well, if I, if you’re giving it in 10 warehouses, I have to send 10 times the amount. That’s actually a false belief, right? You don’t have to send 10 times and now you send the same amount and we split it and you actually sell the same amount across all those FCS at the same time, because we’re splitting it based on buyer behavior. Is there, Charles (20:48): What happens if it goes out of stock a lot faster at warehouse B than a like, is there something that kind of, do retailers have a, want to move it from BTA or do they just send more in and then it just gets reallocated. Michael (21:00): So we we’ve typically been pretty good at allocating. And a lot of people utilize our, our cross crosstalks which actually even if they replenish, we’ll probably look, you know, load balance it in the next FC. If that happens, once again, we know that fast delivery speeds increase sales. So we never want a situation where that happens, where we just completely incorrectly estimate and we don’t send enough to this area. So we’re, we’re going to do everything in our power to keep that area full warn you of any replenishment. And then the future replenishment, make sure we even heavier load one FC or one area that we think your product could do better. And so we’re pretty good at this. We’re not perfect. You know, it’s possible that a product with no history to get sent in and we predict, Hey, there’s going to be this much based on this population size, what we know about the skew. And maybe it doesn’t happen that way. And maybe we lose coverage a little bit earlier. But it’s rarely something where it’s so split. I haven’t seen a situation like that where all of a sudden, it’s just one area. It goes out immediately and they have enough to satisfy two, three months at a, you know, everywhere else. It’s that really? Charles (22:12): Okay. So I saw this happen actually. One of my sites, this is years back I was selling generators like guests, like, yeah, right. That’s the exact scenario. We have a bunch of generators, but like some state got hit with floods. I forget what it was. And they sell out a hundred percent of generators in one day and it’s just the end. And every other state is just like, has too many, you know, there’s nothing going on there. So you see like the situations like that, where it does make sense to move it or do you just leave it there and try to yeah. Michael (22:40): Well, I mean, the thing is, yeah. I mean, that’s a great point. You bring up a great example. I mean, in that situation, we likely wouldn’t move, but people would still be able to order standard. So, you know, it’s like I can’t get it today or next day, but I can still order it standard and we’ll ship it from there. Okay. So, so it’s not like it’s completely out of date. Charles (23:01): Okay. So the shipping just slows down to those places at that point? Correct. Got it. Okay. Huh. Very cool. What are the kinds of ways have you seen, have you seen retailers be able to do anything like this, a mini version on their own or do they really need to go with a network? Michael (23:15): So we’re going to have some larger retailers right now that, you know, typically we’re in shopping malls and are looking to do something like this. And you know, those are some exciting opportunities there. I think there are retailers that are slightly ahead of the curve. There’s definitely some that aren’t I think, you know, you get to a point where it’s, Hey, do we make this massive investment? Because even if you look at where S C’s are for retailers, a lot of their warehouses are not even in areas that are better for e-commerce they’re in areas that are for retail stores. And so, you know, and that comes down to even a zip code level, right? Like where is your warehouse relative to this zip code in Dallas? Or is it in the right zip? Charles (23:55): It’s where it’s better for warehouses where it’s better for trucks to come in and like close to the airport. Like they usually send it around, not what people live, but we’ll warehouses live, which is the weird part. It’s yeah. When you go to these disrupts, you go, it’s literally just like a neighborhood of where only the warehouses live there. And there’s no actual humans at night and it’s just a ghost town and then trucks come in in the morning. It’s a very strange, and that’s where the warehouse kind of clustered together typically. Michael (24:19): Yeah, you’re right. They are there, there’s a lot of clusters. And so, you know, they have to analyze, Hey, we’ve had these warehouses for our own self for decades. How do we reposition them? Do we sell them? Do we buy more? Like, it’s a massive capital investment when you’re a large retail, even when you’re a small small retailer. So, you know, I think there’s there’s a lot of want to do it. There’s a lot of want to kind of utilize even somewhat like a software, like kind of how we’re doing, but it’s, it’s not just software. I think of our S our product as infrastructure, as a service, because you’re really utilizing both the technology and the data, but also the operational accountability. It’s like, if Uber didn’t have any accountability around the drivers, I mean, what do you have? You have a wild, wild West where, who cares if a drivers, one star consistently, right. It’s pandemonium. Right. And then people lose trust in that. So I think it’s really important that you also operationally are working with these warehouses every hour, every day, because it is a newer model, right. People are like, well, I don’t own it. How is that going to work? Right. I’m so used to owning that whole thing end to end. And, and you know, so you have to make that decision on your business. Is that something you’re willing to take a look at? Charles (25:32): Yeah. I think it’s one of those things where you have started out like Walmart, knowing this video is where there’s going to be a hurricane and there’s gonna be a you know, a blizzard in Boston and they know move all like bread because people like to buy bread before her, like, just like strange things like that. So they’ve been analyzing this for 20 years. They’ve had the software and their own in the machine and it’s just finally getting, and they can do it right because of their scale. But it’s just starting to get more accessible to actual average retailers where now they can understand, Oh, let’s move, let’s have different distribution centers. Let’s kind of move products around. So it was always been there. It’s just been in the hands of only the field at this point up until recently. Yeah. Michael (26:09): And one challenge I’ve seen with like traditional retailers, even with the diversified model, they’re still typically set on one national carrier agreement, maybe two. And that’s going to always, you know, to an extent we’ll slow it down. You think about carriers that have had issues. All of a sudden it affects everything. Right. So imagine, you know, you want to sell today leading up to Christmas and you know, the Christmas holiday, like an, a carrier, the one carrier you have a contract with is backlog, and there’s no guarantees, SLS are suspended. How do you, you know, you just lose out on a week or two of sales that people would have ordered your product. Had they known it would have gotten there faster prior to the holiday. And so it’s risky utilizing just one carrier to care. Charles (26:51): On the flip side though, do you have an issue where, okay, if I’m shipping a hundred percent through ups, I’m going to go and negotiate some great rates with them. And they’re going to give me a, some deep discount, is that if you’re splitting it up, what happens there because now you don’t have the same bargaining power with any one individual carrier. Michael (27:10): Well, actually you do, right? Because if you have more, you have more bargaining power. So it actually is quite the opposite. If you’re working with one, you’re only have the, you know, you, they know, Hey, I’m only working with you and naturally you’ll go with the best one. But when you have rates that are kind of the same across the board, and you’re analyzing, Hey, from going from this neighborhood to this neighborhood, we know we can use this carrier. You’re going to use less of that, you know, specific carrier that you were using prior and use someone else. And so it actually creates a little bit of more of a healthy competition. Okay. Charles (27:39): Okay. So then you’re going to them and saying, Hey, we have like this much volume in your area specific, like maybe it’s not national, it’s a regional. And you’re saying in whatever areas, we have this much volume and we, if you can give us a better price, we could run this volume through you instead of running it through ups. Michael (27:57): Yeah. I mean, I don’t think there’s, there’s like a conversation they’re going. I mean, it’s just, we’re gonna utilize what the best rate is, you know? And I think having the ability to use different carriers allows us to price shop. And I think the freedom is on the consumer. Just like any consumer who can go price shop right now online to figure out how do I want to ship a package? What’s the cheapest way right now, if they have no contract now, you know, granted we have agreements with carriers, but I think it’s more just, Hey, what is the lowest rate we can get? From this end to this end. And, and granted, I think our rates are pretty phenomenal because we, we provide a fixed cost. That includes not only the shipping label, but also the pick, the pack, everything. So when people see our rates on our site, they literally just paste in the weights and dimensions. Then it says, here’s how much you would pay. I’m all in. There’s no other costs other than storage, because that’s a variable, depending on what long product sits in our network. But people are used to paying only two costs when they’re, when they’re using it. Charles (28:53): Yeah. And everyone shows his stories. So that’s kind of, that’s building the model, right? Yeah. okay, cool. This is super interesting. I think people should I think most people have heard of deliver this point, but if they haven’t definitely should check it out. So I’ll thanks for the helpful if folks kind of want to see more about you guys, other than deliver, where else can, where else can we link dough? Michael (29:14): Yeah, we, we try to make it as easy as possible to use. You can go on our site, you can check rates type in your product, type in the weights and dims or copy of the product on Amazon. You can talk to our live chat. They’re open Monday through Friday. You could even set up a meeting on our homepage. It says, let’s chat and you can book a time with anyone. You can add me on LinkedIn. I’m happy to talk and redirect you in an area you need to go. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible. We’ve had people who sign up for deliver, self-serve send in product and a week or two start getting it received and start selling on various channels, whether that’s Shopify, big commerce you know, Walmart, you name it. And so it’s a pretty quick, easy setup. We don’t, we don’t have any agreements we’re trying to just do away with the traditional kind of a longer term con commitment that you need to do. Put the onus on us, let us prove ourselves. And, and we think people will be pretty satisfied. Charles (30:04): Very cool. All right. I love it. I will definitely link to it in the show notes and appreciate you coming on. Thanks a lot for that. I appreciate you Michael (30:10): For having me. Thank you so much. It’s been great.
47 minutes | Feb 18, 2021
Whitehat link building for eCommerce (E158)
Jeff Oxford Founder and CEO of 180 Marketing Show Notes eCommerce SEO is a different scale and size Link build strategies Product Reviews HARO – Help a reporter Guest Posts Reach out, send your bio Top blog lists Budget < $100 per link – Bad $200-300 – More common whitehat links Send examples of past links Ask if they own the blogs Sponsors: Prisync Spark Shipping Links: https://www.180marketing.com/ https://linkhunter.com/ Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the Business eCommerce I talk with Jeff Oxford about whitehat link building for e-commerce. This is a business of eCommerce episode 156. Charles (00:20): Welcome to the business of e-commerce the show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow their e-commerce business. I’m your host, Charles Palleschi with Jeff Oxford. Jeff is the CEO and founder of one 80 marketing and SEO company focused exclusively on SEO and content marketing for e-commerce businesses. As Jeff on the show today, talk about link building specifically for e-commerce businesses. There’s definitely some nuances that make link building different when it comes to e-commerce. So I think he really digs into that and this is his focus. So he brings some great tips that I think really everyone should listen to. It’s something that link building isn’t talked about that often it’s something that I think a lot of folks kind of focus more on the on-page more and some, some other factors when it comes to SEO. But I think link building really is one of the keys to making your SEO strategy work. Charles (01:14): And Jeff really goes deep and specific when it comes to e-commerce link building. So I think you should watch the entire show. He gives three strategies on how to build links and some concepts on budget. And we should be looking at if you’re thinking of getting into us. So let’s get into the show and listen right to the end. He also talks about his product which I think is actually great. You should check out I’ll link to in the show notes. So let’s get into the show. Hey Jeff, how are you doing today? I Jeff (01:42): Am doing great. Charles, how about yourself? Charles (01:45): Doing good. Thanks for coming on the show. I’ve had a few guests there in the past. Talk about SEO, but kind of more of a focus on link building. I feel like that’s not something I’ve touched upon at least here in the past. So I’m kind of excited to get into that aspect of it real quick. First one, any marketing you’re the founder, how you’ve been doing SEO for, for how long Jeff (02:07): I would do an SEO for about a decade now, mainly on e-commerce sites. So I’m little side stories. I’ve built my own in the past, back in like 2012, built my own e-commerce sites, drop shipping sites had success there and then decided just to kind of pursue the e-commerce marketing side of it and focus less on the operations. Charles (02:27): How would you say? So when you say you focus on e-commerce, how is e-commerce SEO different than, you know, if I’m a SAS or whatever any other sort of company, how has e-commerce SEO different? Jeff (02:40): I’d say the bit, one of the biggest differences is just the scale and size. I mean, of course you can have a small e-commerce site. That’s just selling a few products. Maybe they have like a small catalog under 10 products. In which case that’s going to be pretty similar to how you’d approach SEO for a SAS or your typical brochure website. We, when you start having a website with, you know, hundreds of thousands of products and dozens or hundreds of categories, it’s a whole nother, separate set of challenges. And the biggest difference is just prioritization. Prioritization is super critical. You know, you don’t have all the resources in the world to make, you know, optimize every change perfectly. So you have to prioritize, you know, apply the 80 20 rule, which products and categories can bring the most results and traffic. Start there, you can’t build links to every single page. So you’ve got to choose which pages can benefit most LinkedIn links. It’s a lot of strategy analysis. Then there’s also some nuances that come with shopping cards, like there’s [inaudible] issues with category pages. If a product is going to be a multiple categories, is it going to be a duplicate content issue there? So there’s also some technical issues that you got to look out for with e-commerce SEO. Charles (03:45): Yeah. Yeah. I think, you know, you used to probably folks doing like a brochure site, right? They might be yeah. 10 page five pages, 10 pages, and you can pretty much build links, optimize all of them, like in one go around versus e-commerce you can be talking a hundred thousand pages. That’s not even, that’s not even abnormal. Right. And some e-commerce sites, especially when you’re talking drop shipping. So how do you, how do you decide? So first, like building, we’ll get into that a moment, but it’s relatively it’s not cheap to do, right? Like in time or dollars, like it takes effort, it takes work. And if you had 10 pages, you could just hit all of them and you’re done. But if you have a hundred thousand, you’re not going to build links to a hundred thousand pages. Exactly. So you’re going to figure out where to even start off, like, how do you even, what’s the framework to even start thinking about, like, where do you build your links though? Jeff (04:36): This is a really good question and I wish more e-commerce sites would ask it because a lot of times, if you’re focused on the wrong, like let’s say building links to the page, you think you need to be building links to, but it’s not. You’re wasting those times and resources and link building will, you know, we’ll talk about this more later is the most complicated time consuming, expensive part of SEO. So you want to make sure every dollar that goes into link building is maximized. Typically what I w I, we, my self and my team would do is we go to a tool like H refs or Moz or SCM rush export, every single ranking on the website. Then you know, now we have all the keywords. We have the search volume for each of the keywords and the ranking. From there we put into like a pivot table, so we can see which pages are ranking the best, which ones have the most opportunity. Jeff (05:20): And then from there, we’d want to pull in some more data, like go to Google analytics. You can export they, it’s hard to find this as e-commerce tab on most reports and in Google analytics where you can actually see the average order value, conversion rate per session value. And first, what per session value does is it tells you, okay, let’s say a thousand people come to the page and you made $5,000 in revenue. Well, the per session value is $5 per visitor. So basically what it’s saying is for every visitor to that page, you’re getting X dollars. So we want to get that metric because it’s showing the conversion potential and how much money you can for each page. There might be a page where the keywords you’re targeting have lots of search volume, Andrew ranking. Well, but maybe it doesn’t convert at all for you. Well, that’s probably not a page you’re going to focus on. So you want to get really strategic and pull in average order value, conversion rate, some of them conversion metrics. So that way you can find pages that not only have an opportunity to drive lots of traffic, but can also convert drive revenue. Charles (06:21): Yeah. I feel like the simplest way to look at it is figure out how to do more of what’s already working. Right? Like don’t try to go out there and figure out, right? Like, don’t try to like, just come up with some concept that might work, just figure out what’s working and then just do that, like right. Jeff (06:36): Double down on it. It’s so much easier. I mean, sure. You could kind of like spend all this time doing keyword research and like find, find all these other keywords, but the quickest way to get results with SEO is see what’s ranking between position like five and 15. That’s yours. That’s your sweet spot because every increase you get from then on out, you’re going to get exponential increases in traffic. If you’re not even ranking top 100, it’s going to take a long time before you get any traction for that keyword. Charles (07:03): That’s a good way of looking at it. Cause if you’re already doing, if you’re on, let’s say, you know, between five and 15, right. You’re on the, you’re the eighth result and you’re already doing well off the eighth. Now getting to the third result, you’re going to do astronomically better. And if you can get to first, second and third, then now you’re in the money. I like that. Yeah. Jeff (07:22): Yeah. That’s that’s 100%. It’s just you know, double down on what’s working and you know, maybe once you’ve solidified and got some really good positions you can start working on some new areas and new curious to explore, but always focused on lowest hanging fruit. SEO is a long-term play, but you can make it a short term play by focusing on what’s working. Well, Charles (07:40): I like that. Okay. So that’s how you know what to focus on, but let’s get into, I guess, link building, because I think some folks, when I’ve, when I was first exposed to this, it was kind of first taught that it was like this like kinda dirty concept that you’re not supposed to do, but everyone kind of does it. How would you even first let’s define what link-building is and what’s like right and wrong. Jeff (08:02): So LinkedIn link building is getting another website to include a link back to your website. So sometimes it’s called link back link. It all means the same thing. We want other websites on the web to link to you. It’s like it’s like a vote of trust. If, if a website is Lincoln to you, there must be a reason for it. You must have a good website or else, why would they link to you? It’s like the, the web equivalent of sharing in a way. So Google, the reason we focus so much on link building and the SEO world is every time there’s a correlation study done to see who ranks, where and why, and what are the biggest, the biggest ranking factors in Google, the number of backlinks to your website and the authority of those links is the number one ranking factor. And now when I say authority, a website like cnn.com has a very high authority website. It’s been around, it’s popular and it has lots of backlinks. But if someone creates a blog a week ago and they link to that has no authority, that’s not going to have any impact on SEO. So we want to look at both the quantity and the quality or in this case, the authority, Charles (09:04): This week’s episode is sponsored by Prisync. Prisync is a competitor price tracking and repricing tool that helps e-commerce companies make intelligent pricing decisions. Using the dashboard and daily Excel reports Online sellers can monitor price changes and immediately make pricing adjustments. Here’s some features that I love about Prisync. First is smart match. What smart match does is allows Prisync to search for our competitors and attach their prices right on your dashboard. So you can monitor their pricing changes against competitors. You already know about, they find competitors. You didn’t even know existed. Once you have that, you can configure your repricing rules. What this does is you can now set your prices to be based on the average price, the lowest price, the highest price of your competitors go up and down. And also you can say, don’t go lower than my cost by plus $5. Whatever you want to do, you can set these rules and pricing will automatically adjust your prices. Next is price change notifications. You can set rules to when prices change pricing will send you a notification alerting you of your competitors. Prisync changes last, but not least is a price history. You can then go in to the dashboard and look up all the pricing changes over time, the price, and because of monitoring that way, you know, just because it’s slower today, they might just be having a sale and it might come back tomorrow. You can see all your competitors on one charge. Super cool. I urge you to check it out. Thanks again for Prisync, for sponsoring this week’s episode. Now back to the show. Charles (10:44): Yeah. Google’s purposely done this, right? Every search engines, you can’t just game it, right? I can’t create a hundred blogs on Tumblr tomorrow. Charles (10:52): Point them all to my site and things are great. Like you used to actually be able to do this a few years ago. It was just, it was based a lot less on the quality of the links, but more just the quantity of links. Now, you know, if you have a link from harvard.edu, right. From the homepage directly to your site, you win. But, and then it’s also even divided by the number of links on that page. Right. So you’re talking if you’re on a popular site, but there’s maybe Huffington post right. Shoots really popular, but just each link is worth slightly less just because they have so many links coming out of it as well. Right? Jeff (11:27): Yeah. So it’s like, that’s the, you’re actually talking about Google’s initial page rank algorithm. So that will basically put Google on the map. Was this algorithm that they came up with that made their search results so much higher quality. And let’s say as a page with just your link. So it’s just like a deal you’re going to get a hundred percent of that page rank or that link juice. But what if that page had a hundred links on it? You’re going to get one, 100th of the link. At least that’s how the initial page rank algorithm was written. Charles (11:56): Okay. How about in 2021? What’s the, what is that like similar or has it changed? Jeff (12:03): It’s, it’s definitely plays a role, but it’s not as cut and dry. It’s not like, you know, 10 links. You got one 10th of each link juice, a hundred links. That’s kind of been toned down a bit where, whether there’s like one or 10, it’s probably knocked me that big of a difference. You’re probably still going to get full link value. I’d say if you start to get, if a page has like a few dozen links or over a hundred external links, you’re pro that’s. Those are the cases where he’s probably going to be diluted a bit. Charles (12:29): Okay. So then how do you actually, what is this, what is the process to actually go about getting more links? Right? Because you can email all these people. Do you get these emails every day saying, Hey, please link to my, whatever I know, like what a delete. Jeff (12:43): Yeah, exactly. Yeah. What is, Charles (12:46): What is the right way to do this? Jeff (12:48): It’s really hard. You mentioned how before on some, you know, you’ve had previous episodes and link billing, it doesn’t really get the spotlight as much as it should, which is odd because link building’s the number one ranking factor. And the reason for that is because it’s so difficult. I bet people listening to right now probably have no idea where to start with link building. And that’s because it’s just so hard. How do you get another website to link to you? So there’s, you know, we, I run a company, we only do SEO for e-commerce sites. So we’ve gotten, we found a few strategies that work best. I mean, you can do research and there’s dozens or hundreds of different link building strategies you can use. But there’s just a few that I found work really, really well. The first one that I always recommend is product reviews. Jeff (13:27): So basically what you do is you find relevant websites. You send them some free product. They’re going to take that product, take some photos, write a review on their website, and then end that review that probably going to link back to your site and to your product. So product reviews can work really well for that reason. This assumes that maybe your product is not too expensive. If you’re selling diamond rings, it, the hard cost might not be worth the link, but maybe you’re selling t-shirts you’re selling shoes or whatever it might be. And it’s kind of in, you know, it’s, it’s not your hard cost. Isn’t more than a hundred to 200 bucks. It it’s definitely worth doing Charles (14:03): So basically you’re looking at that. You’re essentially spending a product to bio-ink. Right? So if I send them a a hundred dollars product, I’m kind of hoping I give you a hundred dollar product, you review it, write a little blurb, I’ll get a little track from that. But the big thing you’re looking for is that inbound link, right? Jeff (14:19): So you can look at, look at it from that lens. And if, if Google kind of like, if Google is another thing, that’s kind of like, Google hates us doing link, building organic. It’s like, Oh, you’re buying links with product, like no bad. But if you say like, well, we’re giving them a product for free and we’re just paying them for their time to formulate the review and whatnot. It kind of puts on a different lens, but it’s all the same. You’re you’re sending out product, you’re getting links back. And what’s good about this strategy is sometimes the blog has a large audience. The, those lengths, maybe it doesn’t just help with SEO. Maybe it’s sending referral traffic to your website. Maybe you’re getting some conversions and sales from the link. So link building when done right. Can have multiple benefits. Charles (15:03): Yeah. I think it’s the wind done, right? Because I mean, what they really don’t want is just sitting here today. You have a new site and you have, you know, two sites linking to you. And then somehow, tomorrow you have a thousand inbound links. That’s like the worst signal you can get. Right. Jeff (15:17): It’s it’s gonna look odd if Google sees a whole bunch of links going to your site, all of a sudden, now I will, I will say there are exceptions. Like maybe you did a, you just launched a really successful Kickstarter and you’ve got a whole bunch of press and you get links from all these, if a new sites that’s totally fine. That’s totally natural. But you know, what, if you just paid to get listed in a thousand spammy directories, or you just got, had someone on five-year builds you a thousand spammy blog comments, that’s where it starts to cause issues and where sites can get penalized. Charles (15:47): Okay. So in the Proctor reviews, a nice power that is there is, it’s like a very natural it’s right way to explain it. The speed of it, the frequency is very natural, right? You can only get a few of those a week or a month. You’re not going to somehow just send out a thousand units and you’re gonna get a thousand links tomorrow. You’re gonna send out a handful this week, a handful next week, and they’ll come over time, over weeks and months, even. So they’ll, they’ll come in very naturally seeming, right? Yep. Exactly. Okay. Other than product reviews, what else, what else, if you didn’t work. Jeff (16:19): So for getting like high authority mentions, like maybe you want to get listed on some of the, some big popular blogs or publications, or like even like Forbes or what are some other like entrepreneur there’s ways you can do it fairly easily. So there’s something called help a reporter out or HARO for sure. Yup. Yup. The website for that is just help report a.com and it’s totally free. And it’s the easiest way to get these types of mentions. You, you sign up you interested in information about your, your business and your industry. So maybe you’re in the wedding industry. Maybe you sell you know, groomsmen gifts or wedding accessory, you know, whatever it might be. And you’ll get notifications of like every single day, you’ll get a newsletter of all these different journalists who are looking for like maybe like we did this for one client. Jeff (17:07): Like they sell gifts for groomsmen. They signed up for the wedding. They got all the wedding related inquiries. There’s one where it’s like, we’re looking for someone to write about how to save money on a wedding. And so, you know, they just submitted it got a really good link on retail, me nots blog. And it took, you know, five minutes of work. But there’s, there’s a trick with this. A lot of people know about help reporter out and journalists. They know when they’re going to post on this, their inbox is going to get flooded. So if you want this to work out, it’s all about speed. You gotta be one of the first people to respond. You know, give them, give them all information they need, right. Already write a bio about yourself, that you include it in there, your bio already have it hyperlinked to your website. So it’s a great way to get high authority links from really big publications, but just know it’s competitive. There’s a lot of other people that are going to be falling up and journalists are probably going to look at the first few entries. Charles (18:03): Yeah. I think the note hair is just make it easy for them when you’re just talking to a journalist, like they’re going to get a lot of these and they’re going to try to sift through as quick as they can. And these are, they’re also on a time crunch, right? They want to write an article. They want to have this blog post or this article out by X. So you just want to make it, you just want to like tee this up and make it as easy as possible. I’ve seen people even have a a PDF with like the headshot about them. Like everything is already and they just attach it. So the journalist can just open it and they don’t have to go, you know, clicking on their different bio’s and find different things. They just have a one pager. Maybe just make it easy for them. Jeff (18:38): Yeah. That, that works really well. You said it, like if they have to reply to you to get more information, they’re probably not going to take the time to apply it. It probably is going to go to the next one. Charles (18:45): Yeah. Yeah. Cause the next one will actually have all the information. So he’s going to go down until they find the one, Oh, this one’s ready for me. Let’s do this. Don’t give him more work. Yeah. Cause, cause they’ll find someone who will not do that. So does it matter? So let’s say you’re selling wedding gifts, right. And you’re in Harrow and there’s an article for something about, you know, cooking or something totally like unrelated. Is it, does that still help getting a link from a site that has, you know, you’re in the wedding market, but let’s say you’re getting a link. You know, you just love to cook also. So you have a link about your AirFryer also pointing it and how great your air fryer experience was. Does that, does that not help? Jeff (19:27): Depends if there’s like an angle, they’re not. So for example, let’s say you’re, you’re a, you sell let’s say like we’ll stick with a wedding gifts side. And then maybe there’s a website that talks about you know, investing and savings and personal finance at first glance. It might not seem that relevant. It’s like, what does it have to do with weddings? But what if the article is how to save money on a wedding now, all of a sudden, like it’s, that’s a lot more helpful. That said though relevancy does play a factor factor and the value of the link. You know, if you get a link from a wedding focused blog, that’s gonna have a lot more value than if you get a link from a blog that talks about everything. So there’s a lot of lifestyle blogs out there that talk about like travel beauty, fashion, interior design those aren’t gonna have as much of an impact as a site that just talks about weddings. Charles (20:20): Got it. How about the blogs? Like when you see like a Tumblr or a medium sort of blog, does that still count or is that not as good at not good at all? Jeff (20:31): Meat medium is great because it has such a high authority, same thing with like Forbes entrepreneurs, like CNN, Huffington post, all these sites. I’ve very authoritative, so it’s going to help from that regard. So you’re going to get a lot of plus points for just the authority of the site, but they’re not relevant at all. So you’re not going get much relevancy points. So, I mean, if you were to ask me, it’s like a trade-off, you know, do you have a, a high domain rating site that’s not very relevant? Or do you have a lower domain, any site that is very relevant? Honestly I think the SEO impact is going to be pretty similar. Charles (21:01): Okay. So even maybe both right. That probably also protects you from, you know, next year when and if you want to talk about algorithm changes, but goals inevitably gonna change the algorithm. Right. And if you only have one or the other and they make that type less less valuable, you’re going to be on the wrong side of that. Jeff (21:21): That’s exactly it. Yeah. You’re hedging your bets. You’re diversifying, I’d say there’s nothing wrong with getting some high authority links from Forbes and entrepreneur. I think those are very good. I also think there’s nothing wrong with getting links from, you know, small authority websites that are smaller, that just talk about your topic. I think both are great. And having a diversified link profile is what’s going to get you the best results. Charles (21:44): Got it. So product reviews, Harrow, any other kind of strategies you’ve seen work well for e-commerce? Jeff (21:49): So one that works well for everybody is a guest posting. Now get I’ll preface this by saying guest posting has been abused. Everyone’s using it. A lot of times like there’s sites that it’s not really a blog, it’s just like a guest posting farm where every they’ll accept anything, they’re going to charge you a fee. They’re just doing it to make money it’s. And those types of sites that are just, you know, almost guest posting farm, where every single post, the guest posts and it’s on so many different topics. Those probably aren’t going to be as helpful, but we’re guest posting is good, is like the more higher level, legitimate scale. So if I wrote a guest post about e-commerce SEO for your blog, that’s totally natural. Your site’s about e-commerce. That that link is going to be very valuable. The content is going to be well-written and edit. Jeff (22:39): You know, you’re not going to let, just junk get posts on your website. So at that level, that’s where guest posting can be really good is, is fine. Like real blogs that are legitimate, that maybe they have some, an editor or a staff or staff writers on site. Maybe they also allow contributors like people guest post on Shopify as blog on occasion. Honestly I don’t think they allow it as much anymore, but like those types of links is perfectly good for SEO. And, and you can do this in your industry. There’s going to be blogs. They’re looking for like real industry experts. And if you’re selling a product, I’d imagine that in most cases you probably know a lot about the product. Maybe you’re involved in the manufacturing of it, and you really know the details of the, of the industry or maybe just selling it. You’ve gotten a lot of experience with, and you can talk about it. So if you have that experience and that knowledge, you can definitely do guest posting on a more legitimate level with bigger authority sites. Charles (23:30): How do you open the door to that though? I think that’s where a lot of people get stuck with a CSI. They want to post, you know, on shop fire. They want to post somewhere and they don’t even, you see random people and you have, unless like the link farms make it easy, you know, click here and you can have a posts. But I think the thing people run into with this strategy is they just don’t know where to start. Who do you find the editor? Do you like pitch them cold? Like, and what’s the right way to do it without you making, making it look like you’re just, you know, carpet bombing, cold emails to these out to the internet. Jeff (24:01): I’ll tell you the quick, quick and easy way. And then I’ll tell you the little bit more work, but it gets better results way. So the quick and easy way is show, show your, your expertise in your email pitch. So this you’re sending a cold email. You want to say like, you know, here are some articles I’ve written in the past so they can see like, Oh, and if, if you’ve written for other publications, like that’s going to make it easier for them to respond to you. And then also write like, have some bullet points for your experience in accolades, you know, been in the industry this long I’ve, I’ve spoken at this conferences. I’ve, you know, are we one of these, whatever it is, whatever makes you stand out, like have a few bullet points showcasing like that. You’re not just some schlub out of the mix. Jeff (24:42): That’s trying to get a back link that you can really write an article that increases value. And if you have some examples of articles you can written and you include those links if they’ve taken off and perform well, say like, Oh, I wrote this article that got this many thousand page views. I wrote this article that got this many shares on Facebook and Twitter. Anything that shows what’s in it for them. Cause if, if someone’s coming to them say, Hey, I want to write your article for free. I’m not going to charge you. I’ve done this in the past. I hear it’s a top notch quality and it gets a lot of results. You’d be like, sure, I got nothing to lose here. Like who would turn that down? Nobody would. So again, that’s that if you leverage your experience and credentials and, and that’s, what’s going to really help get those links with cold email. Jeff (25:24): Now I’ll tell you about the second method. The takes a little bit more work, but it gets better results method. So may make, make a list of every single blog you want to get a link from, maybe if you’re okay, we’ll stick with the wedding niche. For example make a list of like the top 50 or so wedding blogs. And then you’re going to turn that prospecting list into a piece of content. You’re going to call it top wedding blogs to fall in 2021, you can include a logo of each one, write a little check out their about page, write a little blurb about it, linked to their website, maybe linked to their social media profiles. And you know, it’s not that much extra work, just a few sentences per site. And then you’re going to reach out to everyone. You’re not going to ask for anything you just gonna say, Hey, you know, we, we love what you’re doing over there. Jeff (26:07): I just want to let you know, we put together a list of the top wedding blogs in 2021. You made our lists, congratulations. Here’s the article. If you want to see it. So this is a great way to build relationships. So that was to your question is like, how do you open the door? I found this is the most scalable way to kind of open that door and build relationships. It takes a lot of time to email each one individually with a personalized email. It takes a lot of time to blog, to comment on their blog post, to try to build a relationship. The best way I’ve found is creating these sort of top blog lists. Use that to open the door and in, so you’re going to have a piece of content which can rank really well, drive traffic while also building relationships. Charles (26:50): Yeah, I think that’s the thing with the what if our way it’s relationships, right? And you need to go into it knowing there’s going to be a process. This isn’t going to be, you know, you hit them, send them some, you know, document and it’s posted by next week. This is going to be the big blogs. Take time. They have a content calendar. So you email them in January. They say, great, this, this sounds really good for Q3. They’re like, wait, Q3 of this year. Like, yeah, it’s, you know, we’re out to Q3. This is how we do it. So I think just getting that in your head that this is going to take time. This is, this is not quick. This is definitely not like an easy money. You’re going to have all these links tomorrow sort of thing. This is going to be work. Charles (27:28): And the other thing you were saying is on the first strategy, showing other blog posts, or just any content they’ve previously done helps out a ton. You can even have content on your own blog. I’ve seen that done exactly. And just like, here’s my blog. Yeah. Here’s some great posts that I really like. I get pitched all the time for the show actually, and people want to come on and yeah, the ones that just send, like, you know, just like this, like one line little thing you’re like, eh, but when they’re like, I’ve been on these, I’ve done these podcasts before. Here’s some things that I wrote, he has my back like, okay, this person’s legitimate. They can bring some value here. Versus just a person with just that one line bio, it’s kind of all about them. They’re not really trying to show you what they’re gonna, what they’re gonna bring to the audience. That’s exactly it. Yeah. I think the thing you’re trying to convey is that if you, as the you know, the owner of the site, whether it’s a podcast or a blog that you’re going to bring this person in front of your audience and they’re going to make you look good, right? Like you, you, you want on that guest post, they’re gonna make your blog look better because they’re honest and it’s going to bring value. And that’s, I think the thing people are missing, Jeff (28:38): They’re going to write something that people were going to read. They’re going to want to share. It’s going to rank well, yeah. So they can have multiple benefits. Charles (28:46): Yeah. All right. So that’s three. I think the, the thing I think people are curious about getting into this is budget wise. Like what should they be assuming they should be getting into hair? And is this something you kind of do yourself? Is this something, you know, if you’re just starting, would you recommend, or is it just because it is a flywheel and it takes a long time to get the flywheel spinning. Jeff (29:09): So there’s, there’s two roads. You can go, you can do it yourself. If you have the time or maybe you don’t have the time, but you have a VA who has the time. And then there’s the you know, just hire someone to do it for you. So if you hire someone to do it for you, there’s kind of two categories. There’s the, the cheaper Fiverr eh, I’ll put this way, any length that, that you can purchase. Like they, they, they say they’re a white hat company, and they, you know, they, if they’re charging you like less than a hundred bucks, less 50 bucks per link I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s like not really an actual guest post link, but it’s a private blog network. Maybe they have a huge network of blogs and they’re just publishing you and link into it. Jeff (29:54): So for those that don’t know what some people do to game the system is they just build a whole bunch of blogs from scratch. And then they do link building for their own blogs that they control. And then they’ll sell links on the, on the blog networks. So that’s what we call private blog network or PBN. And that’s highly violated Google’s guidelines. If you’re just, you’re basically building a link farm. And the thing is if a lot of these sites are linking to the same sites that creates a pretty heavy footprint on the web and they can get penalize and, you know, you can get penalized if you’re kind of engaging with these low quality blanks. Okay. Charles (30:29): They can make their rank worse at that point. Like you could actually go backwards in the rankings. Jeff (30:33): Yeah. And then once you get hit with a link penalty, it is very difficult to come back. So it’s, I would not recommend it if you have an established brand. So that, so you gotta be careful, I guess if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. So if the price is like, like under 50 bucks per link, it’s probably a private blog network. It’s just, there’s no way the numbers work out. If someone’s going to do a guest, like let’s say, you’re talking about a guest posting, you know, it’s going to cost them money to write the articles and the cost, take them time to find the relevant sites. It’s going to take time to do the outreach. The blogger is probably going to have like some editorial fee for their time to go through and like review your content and publish it. So you act add in all those costs. And you know, you’d imagine this end, if someone’s selling this, they’re going to have to need a markup. So that’s why I say, if it’s under 50, a hundred bucks, it’s probably not legitimate. Charles (31:23): That’s a good way of looking at it. It’s going to cost you more than that. Just to write the article. Like, if you want to, if you just wanted to pay a writer for their time, right. Between the research, finding images, like edit, getting everything ready to go, it should cost you more than that. Plus I don’t know where you are, where you’re hiring writers from, but yeah, if you just think of it in those terms, it’s like, how much, you know, what are the pieces, right? Like what are the steps and how much would it just cost me to hire all these people? And yeah, it’s a hundred, or it could be more than a hundred bucks. Definitely more than a hundred. Okay. Jeff (31:52): So I’d say more common, you’re looking at like 200 or $300 range for like, if you’re hiring someone to guest posting for you, or you’re hiring a company to do all the research and outreach manager product review campaign. So I’d say that’s kind of the range that you can expect for, for good white hat links. Now. I bet there’s probably going to be some people out there that can do it for like maybe 150 bucks, but, you know, it’s, it’s, those are going to be very hard to find as long as you’re in the 200 to $300 per link range, that’s going to be a safe bet. So that’s, that’s the hired out approach. So you just estimate about 200 to 300 all in. Now, if you want to do it yourself Charles (32:33): Before you S before you enter the DIY. Yeah. Are there any questions you can w let’s you’re interviewing three of them, right. So you find between two or 300, what questions would you ask them to make sure they’re legitimate? Jeff (32:45): I’d say I’d asked the first thing I’d asked for is can you send the links that you’ve built in the past? Just to, to look at it and be like, this is, and then when you look at those, the main thing you’re going to look for is, is this look like a real website or does it look like it was just meant for link building? Does it like what’s on the about page? Is it actual say something about an actual person or is it just general language? Is there you know, sometimes they haven’t an address on the S on the, on the blog. Sometimes they have a phone number. Some, you know, the main thing you’re looking for though is like, does this look like it’s an actual person to do? Can I see like a headshot or a photo of a real person that’s supposed to rider here? Jeff (33:20): So that’s kind of one signal you can look at. I’d also just ask them, like, do you own these blogs? Or like how you find these websites? If they say, Oh, we, we own the blogs. That’s a private blog network. I would avoid it. If they say, you know, every can’t we treat every campaign differently. We’re going to go out. We’re going to find those manually. Now that that’s kind of closer to answer. You want to hear of something that’s gonna be more legitimate. So check out the links, look for links. They’re getting, and then also ask how they’re finding these websites. Charles (33:50): Okay. Yeah. I like that. Yeah. I think you basically just need to vet them right down to it. I was hiring a writer a while back and it’s like, Oh, you know, just so many, some examples. It was actually examples of people that were on this podcast that they had written before. And I was like, alright, this is a legitimate, like, I know those people legitimate. You’ve written for them. Like this, everything feels right here, verse. Yeah. If they send you these blogs and you’re like, what? Like, you, you see some of them, you get these and you’re like, these are like nothing. They’re just sites about lots of nothing. Yeah. That’s the ones that, yeah, exactly. Jeff (34:23): It’ll make you raise an eyebrow. Charles (34:26): Yeah. If you look at it and you’re like, I would definitely not read this ever then. Yeah. That’s when you run. Jeff (34:31): And also another thing that I’ll add to that is look at the topics. The blog covers, like, let’s say you sell dog food. Is the site about pets or is it like, you know, they have a post about pets and then the post below it’s about home loans and the post below. It is about like insurance. Charles (34:46): Yes. Yeah. They go back to the wedding gift guide. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And those are the ones they’re most likely it’s they own it. Right. Cause it just, they just taking a little everything. And basically you’re saying, look at all the links we created you and they can send you our ELLs and cool. You know, Chuck’s a box, but it’s not doing anyone any good. Yeah. Okay. So let’s say you want to do this just self or I guess, would you start with DOI or is this just based on budget? Right. Right. Jeff (35:12): It’s really based on budget and time. Do you have a lot of time, but no budget. You’re doing DIY a lot of budget, but no time, go ahead and hire someone. Charles (35:21): And it’s usually one of the, although it’s Jeff (35:22): Usually one of the other Charles (35:24): Okay. So let’s say you want to do the DRR DIY Rouse. What’s that look like? Jeff (35:28): Yeah. So I’ll, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll give a quick overview of what, how you build a link. So first step is prospecting. You’re going to have to find prospects and relevant. So the easiest way to do that, and I’ll use guest posting for this as an example easiest way is just like I’m sticking with a wedding gifts, wedding gifts, just type in wedding blogs in a Google. You’re going to find lists of like, you know, top 50 wedding blogs, top 100 wedding blogs, that strategy I mentioned earlier, it’s, you know, it’s could have been done in your industry. You want to find these lists of blogs out there as a starting point. It’s going to save you a whole bunch of time of prospecting. Speaker 4 (36:03): So you find these lists, you just kind of Jeff (36:05): Add everything up. You should have close to a little more than a hundred prospects by now. The next thing you’re going to do is send your emails. We talked about this before. Well actually let me back up for one second. You got to find the contact details of who you’re going to contact. So you can do it the manual way. Go site by site, just go to the contact page, try to find the email address. Maybe they don’t have an email address and it’s just a contact form. You know, I usually have a spreadsheet where I keep track of everything. I have the the domain and then I have the email address. And if they don’t have an email address just paste in the contact form URL. But there’s a tool I recommend is called hunter.io really popular in the industry. Jeff (36:45): You can just paste in a bunch of domains and it’s going to give you a whole, it’s going to give you the email address for each one has a massive database of email addresses can save a lot of time going site by site, trying to find the contact information so that that can save some time there. So let’s say now you have a list of a hundred websites. You have the contact details. Now you’re going to send your pitch. And we talked about this earlier, highlight your value, highlight where you can bring to the table, your experience provide examples of posts you’ve written in the past. Add some bullet points about your knowledge, your awards, and accolades that also include in that pitch. Some suggested topics that you think would be good for their blog. So that’s another thing, like get the ball started early. Jeff (37:25): Don’t wait for them to come back to you. Like, you know, just kind of move, move to conversations along by actually giving them some topics and ask if there’s one that, that they want you to move forward with. So then you send your pitch, you’re going to get some responses. There’ll be like, Oh, I really liked this topic. Let’s move forward with that. Then you’re going to write the article or you can hire someone to write the article for you. And then and that article, you’re going to include a link somewhere in the content, back to your website. You’ll submit it to the blogger. They’re going to review it. They’ll publish it. And boom, now you’ve got to link back to your website. Speaker 4 (37:59): Nice and easy. Right? Nice and easy. Jeff (38:02): Now here’s, here’s where it gets tricky. Prospecting can take a lot of time. Those lists will, you know, that will get you maybe a hundred or so blogs, but you know, if you average, maybe your response rate, maybe your link rate reach out to a hundred blogs. You’re only getting 20 to 40 backlinks. What happens after you’ve reached all those blogs? Well, that’s where prospecting can really take a lot of time. You’re going to have to do digging into a lot of keywords. You know, just kinda mainly searching and Google can find it that way so that, that can take a lot of time. And as I mentioned, kind of contact could take time, but Hunter can help with that this year. If you’re looking to like streamline the process a little bit, I think you mentioned it at the very beginning, but there’s a tool that I built called link hunter.com. Jeff (38:46): Now the reason I built this is I, on my main thing is I run an e-commerce SEO company, but people come to me, they want link building. Maybe they can’t afford a few thousand dollars a month to hire an agency. I kept before. I’d always thought to say, no, we can’t help you. I’m sorry. These are minimum has been now I have something I can point them to because they kept saying over and over there’s people who are just getting started, that they want this. They know they need it, but they can’t justify it. So we’ll link Hunter. Does you choose how you want to build camp? How you want to build backlinks. Maybe you want to do product reviews. Maybe you want to do guest posting, whatever it might be. Those campaigns already built into it. So you do guest posting, you intro a few keywords. Jeff (39:23): Maybe you type in like wedding. If you sell wedding guests, maybe type in interior design, if you sell furniture and then link Hunter is going to go, it will find all the prospect of websites for you. It has some SEO metrics in there, so you can see how much SEO value each website give you it’s powered by Hunter’s API. So it’s already included. You’re going to get all that email data. And it has all the email templates that we’ve personally found work really well built into the system. So it streamlines the process. You can literally have a LinkedIn campaign up and running in less than two minutes. So if you have absolutely zero, nowhere to start that’s that kind of, it’s built to kind of have a structure to walk you through it. So you get results. Other than that, there’s some great resources like backlinko.com has a lot of good information about link building. And then H refs has a, a H R E F s.com has a very good blog about link building. So there are two resources if you’re looking to educate yourself more. Charles (40:18): Yeah. Both of those blogs, you mentioned a Travis and link Hunter, their blogs, and also there are a YouTube channels which has been great. They’re fantastic. I was actually just wearing a dress shirt. I changed for this podcast, but yeah. Yeah, I think what people, they, they kind of, they fire off that initial email and don’t realize that there’s going to be some, like, fall up this me some work I’ve had folks even email. And then also like track me down on like LinkedIn or Twitter and just showing that you’re not just, like I said, like earlier, just like copper bombing the internists. Cause that’s you get these emails all the time, just like, I want to write for your blog. And it’s like this like off topic, Daniel, like, whatever. But when it’s like, like you said, here’s a couple ideas I have and you can tell they real, you can tell they don’t really read the blog. Cause a lot of people do this. Hey, I read your blog post about the third blog post down. It’s always like, it’s always like the third down. Cause they don’t want to say a first one. Jeff (41:15): Yeah. They always start with, I love your blog or, Oh my gosh, your blogs is amazing. It’s like, yeah, you haven’t read anything. Charles (41:21): You definitely haven’t read it. Yeah. I love this one with that. And like you just scroll down, like you hit the scroll. Well you found some random thing. You cut and paste them. I get it. I get the game. But when they have an article on there that you can, Oh, this would actually be pretty good. And you think, and you actually think like this is something we should be writing. And you’re like, Oh, if that person thought of that, I could, you know, fine. They can just write it. Like that’s easier. So it really needs to be something that when you see the title, you’re going to say, Oh, that actually is something we want on the blog. And the audience would like, like, this is something we sh I wish I thought of that. And as soon as if you make the editor to say, I wish I had thought of that, then they’re going to say yes, because it’s just easier than having, you know, their writer do it. Charles (41:59): They’re going to say, well, you thought of it. Let’s let’s do this. So I think that’s really the thing when it comes to that. And yeah, I’ve actually, I think someone maybe on the show is talking about link Hunter. Yeah, just having someone like that, that just kind of gives you just a starting place because I think people just, they get really bogged down in that and they don’t realize also, even though you have these tools, it’s a numbers game, right? Like you’re going to have to, you know, like you said, your plan on emailing a hundred and you’re going to get, I don’t know, 20 responses. And out of that, you going to get like two or three blog posts. So it’s, Jeff (42:32): Every time there is a numbers game and like kind of, we talked about before you can increase those response rates and increase those link rates with relationship building. So, I mean, if I wanted to get a link from your website, I bet if I wrote an article about top e-commerce podcasts and then I mentioned you on it and I actually wrote something custom and I, I listed out some of my favorite episodes. I’m like, Hey, just like, no I added to this list. I really like what you’re doing. And it shows that I listened to it. You’d be like, Oh wow, like this, this, this isn’t just like, know some random person like this, this person actually has some credibility. And they took, they took the time. And then if I did my link pitch, you’re probably going to be way more eager to respond than if I was just nobody reaching out cold. Charles (43:15): The biggest thing actually being on the other side, I’ll tell you the biggest thing is and this is the last day. I know we’re close on time here, but when I personally get those pitches, I always like when they include that LinkedIn and Twitter in the bottom, and if they have any mutual connections of mine that already goes a hundred X higher, I look and just, you know, click on their Twitter. Okay. You’re connected to some of the other e-commerce folks. Okay. LinkedIn, you connect, you know, cause obviously if you are in the industry, have a bunch of these connections, as soon as you see those mutual connections, you’re like, all right, like you have something in the more, the more, the better if it’s folks, you know, in real life, all of these different things just had someone on the podcast too. We have real life connections, right? Like he, we’re connected to actually folks that I know personally. So then all of a sudden it’s very different and it just goes right to the top versus the ones when you click on the LinkedIn and you’re like, all right, you have no connect. You actually have zero connections. You go on their Twitter. They haven’t posted since, you know, 2016. And you’re like, eh, and they have no connections in the e-commerce industry. You just know, okay. I know get what you’re doing. So that, that always helps. Jeff (44:21): That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that. It makes perfect sense. Charles (44:25): Yeah. So, okay. Well this a tip right there. So have mutual end if you’re in the industry, it also natural. That’s the other thing, right? If you’ve written on 10 different e-commerce blogs, you’re most likely to be connected to their editors. If you’ve been on a bunch of podcasts, if you’ve been doing a bunch in the industry, you’re going to have connections in the industry. So same thing that it makes, it looks natural to Google, it’ll look natural to the editor, to whoever’s kind of running the blog of the podcast as well, because they’re going to do the same research and just start to see is this natural? Is this real? So I think that’s really kind of what it comes down. Jeff (44:57): And if I hear that and try to like, you know, turn that into an accident for someone like myself or some listens podcast right now, you know, try to build those connections in your industry, you know, add people on LinkedIn you know, build relationships cause that you don’t know how it’s going to help you in the future. Charles (45:12): Sure. Yeah. And in those connections, just start talking to people. I think that’s what I did really early on. Just kind of follow people on Twitter and things like that, and just started being part of the conversation. And you naturally stop building connections, meet meeting people then at conferences and going, Oh, we talked online and you know, it, all of a sudden becomes this real organic thing that now you’re in the industry and you know, each other, and it’s not just this cold thing of it’s the first time you saw each other, it’s say, okay. Oh, we did speak actually at that time, you know, last year on Twitter somehow, and now we’re meeting in real life and now yes, sure. Of course we can have guest posts. So that’s really how to make kind of natural. Agreed. Jeff (45:50): Yeah. I mean in-person conferences always going to be great for that too. Charles (45:54): Yep. Awesome. I think it’s a good place to leave us if people want to find you. So one 80 marketing.com but also link builder, which is kind of some of those. Jeff (46:03): Yeah. I guess I kind of taking a step back. So like if, if you are in the, I have a lot of time, but no money link hunter.com because you have the money, maybe you don’t have time and he wants them to do it for you. One 80 marketing.com. Charles (46:18): Okay. That’s awesome. I will link to both of those and I like how you know, your audience, right. It’s money, money, but no time time, but no money. Exactly. All right. Thanks a lot, Jeff. It was great having you on the show, Charles. Thanks for having me.
36 minutes | Feb 11, 2021
Where to Focus your Time and Attention (E157)
https://www.youtube.com/embed/z4z8RbHnUUA Chloe Thomas Author & Host of eCommerce MasterPlan Show Notes: Think in quarters Focus on 3 things Traction – https://amzn.to/3tJZ1Y1 The 12 Week – Year https://amzn.to/373dIvk eCommerce Marketing: How to Get Traffic That BUYS to your Website – https://amzn.to/3a8Hy3B Productive Planner – https://amzn.to/2Z4XDRA The Customer Master Plan Model Customer Journey Themes Traffic Conversion Rate AOV Sponsors: Prisync Spark Shipping Links: https://www.brandox.com/ecommerce-masterplan Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the business. E-Commerce I talk with Chloe Thomas about choosing where to focus your time and attention. This is a business e-commerce episode, 158. Welcome to the business of eCommerce the show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow your eCommerce business. I’m your host, Charles Palleschi and I’m here today with Chloe Thomas. Chloe is an author and the host of the eCommerce Masterplan Podcast, where they provide online training, advice and information for growing e-commerce businesses on the show. Me and Chloe go really deep into the topic of mindset and specifically choosing where to focus your time and attention and how to focus that attention. I think this is super helpful for anyone, and this is a big topic that I think this is often overlooked and it’s really one of those things. If you get this right, it doesn’t just have linear effects, but it also kind of multiplies and it, it can really move the needle. So super interesting interview is a bunch of book recommendations that I definitely think you should check out and I’ll drop those all in the show notes. So let’s get right into the interview. So, Hey Chloe, how are you doing today? Chloe (01:14): I’m good. Charles, so it was great to be here getting to talk to you about all things e-com Charles (01:19): Yeah. I love having also another podcast or on the show. You are the whole, you’re an author, right? But also the host of the e-commerce master plan. Chloe (01:29): I am, yeah, yeah. Hosted the e-commerce most fun podcast, which is a we’re in a few retailers and of the keep optimizing podcast where we focus on a different marketing method each month with mainly supplier side guests and experts. So, so yeah. Podcasting seems to take up a huge amount of my time these days. Charles (01:47): Yep. Nice. I like, yes. Well kind of we were talking earlier before the show two ideas and I mentioned kind of the whole going into the mindset and every once in a while, I, I love talking to someone about this exact topic just on, I feel like it’s, it’s like a force multiplier, right? Like you can talk all you want about like Facebook ads and like that works. But like, if you want to make any sort of large shift, it always comes to changing just like a complete mindset change, a direction change. And the easiest way to do that is changing your mindset about what direction you should be moving. Do you agree? Or, Chloe (02:22): Yeah, I think it it’s. I mean, I’ve been been helping people solve their marketing problems in e-commerce and their e-commerce problems in general for about 15, 16, 17 years now. And there’s kind of two questions that everything I ever get asked, get boils down to, and one is Chloe, what should I be doing? And the other one is glowy is what I’m doing, what I should be doing, because I think it’s, there’s so much we could be doing success comes from focusing in on the right things. And unless you’ve got your head in the right space, you know, you know what you’re trying to achieve in your life for your business, you know what your strengths are, your weaknesses on you, what your head in the right place, unless you’ve got all those things in place, you can’t make good decisions about what you should be focusing your time and effort on. Chloe (03:09): And it’s, it’s very easy to spend, you know, an I, I fall in this trap about once every couple of years and have to, can I kind of hit myself on the head and go, God, you’re doing it again. Which is to think that busy means successful. And they are two completely different things. They’re not even on the same scale, how busy you are, has got nothing to do with how successful you are. But it often, often we think as long as we’re filling our time with something we’re doing okay. So I think mindset, it’s kind of like the bedrock on which we build everything else. Charles (03:42): Yeah. I like that. Yeah. I think we kind of grow up in school and kind of learning on like, you know, people do well, the kids that are sitting there, like with their flashcards before the test, and they’re like stand up all night and you go to college and it’s like the same thing. And then you kind of realize when you kind of get into the field, that if you’re just sprinting as fast as you can, and then some unbelievable opportunity comes along, you’re already going full throttle and you don’t have any way to like scale up to that thing. So it’s always like, you need to leave some Slack. Chloe (04:11): Yeah. You’ve got to, you’ve got to make space for good stuff to happen as well. You know, I’m, I’m very much not in the camp of fill every waking moment with something, you know, I’m very much not in the camp of you should be working seven days a week to make a business successful. You’ve got to have that downtime to let the unconscious have time to kind of work its way through things. And, and I’ve often found that, you know, forcing myself to make space rest, you know, saying you will finish at this time every night, you will not work. Weekends has often created the situation, which, which has bought me the greatest success in all aspects of life and business, because I find it very hard to say no to things. And by focusing in on, right, you have, you can only do X number of hours a week. It’s like, well, I’ve got to say no to some things. And it really focuses the mind on making better decisions around that too. Charles (05:04): This week’s episode is sponsored by Prisync. Prisync is a competitor price tracking and repricing tool that helps e-commerce companies make intelligent pricing decisions. Using the dashboard and daily Excel reports Online sellers can monitor price changes and immediately make pricing adjustments. Here’s some features that I love about Prisync. First is smart match. What smart match does is allows Prisync to search for our competitors and attach their prices right on your dashboard. So you can monitor their pricing changes against competitors. You already know about, they find competitors. You didn’t even know existed. Once you have that, you can configure your repricing rules. What this does is you can now set your prices to be based on the average price, the lowest price, the highest price of your competitors go up and down. And also you can say, don’t go lower than my cost by plus $5. Whatever you want to do, you can set these rules and pricing will automatically adjust your prices. Next is price change notifications. You can set rules to when prices change pricing will send you a notification alerting you of your competitors. Prisync changes last, but not least is a price history. You can then go in to the dashboard and look up all the pricing changes over time, the price, and because of monitoring that way, you know, just because it’s slower today, they might just be having a sale and it might come back tomorrow. You can see all your competitors on one charge. Super cool. I urge you to check it out. Thanks again for Prisync, for sponsoring this week’s episode. Now back to the show. Charles (06:42): Now back to the show We’re talking about for the show and I sent you a tweet, actually, it’s something I had kind of in my little Twitter drafts for awhile. And it was, then we were talking before I was like, you know what, I’m going to actually publish it today. I’m kind of just reading it two of the most important to the most important, you have difficult things for a founder to do are choosing the correct things to focus your time and attention on and to focusing on that thing. How do you kind of feel about that? Chloe (07:10): Oh, Oh totally. We S I think it’s, it’s kind of worse in the e-comm space too, to be able to work out what to do and then to focus on it. And if I focused on, if I focus on the focusing part here there are, we are surrounded by an industry that likes to create content and distraction. You know, it’s, especially when we’re in this world, a pandemic everyone’s creating online content. It’s not the offline events anymore. It’s all the webinar on this. And you must know about that. And of course, marketers are trying to get you to read their blog, to attend the webinar, to watch their video, to listen to their podcasts, because it is crucial for you to listen to you, but you have to see it all through this, this kind of filter of what’s relevant to me. And it’s so easy to get sucked into. Chloe (07:59): This is very cool. That’s very cool. I think I said, said to you beforehand, last night, I was chairing a conference that a friend of mine runs and it was on a new platform that I hadn’t used before called. I can’t remember the name of it now. And it was, it was like super cool new platform where you can put banners in and all this cool was that no, no, this wasn’t clubhouse. This was a, it was a streaming service. And we were doing like a, like a virtual summit, a live virtual summit. And it was, it was just such a cool platform that I got so totally distracted by it. I was almost, you know, during sessions, writing plans of how I’m going to run loads of events. It’s like, offense is not in your plan for 2021 glory. You spend ages working on this plan and one cool piece of software, which you’re going to get to use every month as part of this conference series that someone else is running. Chloe (08:52): You you’ve just completely ignored your plan for the year. And just got excited about a whole other strategy, which doesn’t fit with any of the aims or objectives. It was just a cool business per se. I say that because just to show how easy it is, you know, and you have to create that filter based on what you’re good at, what’s right for your business, where you’re trying to get to, and then you can kind of filter through what you should be buying, what you should be using, what you should be paying attention to. And that will help you stay on track, but you can’t focus unless you know what you’re supposed to be doing. Charles (09:26): So actually that’s the first part. How do you know what you should be doing then? So you said you sat down and come up with a plan you’ve been doing that. I feel like you go to, so you go to these online summits and there’s someone up there saying like content blogging. And you’re like, great. I’ll definitely do a lot of blog. And they’re like, Facebook ads, like definitely do that toe video on YouTube. Yeah. Tech talk. And you’re like, obviously I’m going to detect it. And like clubhouse and like, got to do some of that. And then by the end, you’re like, all right, I’m going to do none of these. Like, this is insane. So like, how do you in the thing is each one of those folks kind of went up on stage and a virtual stage right now and said, like this worked for my business. Charles (10:01): It was great. It did, that’s the thing, but how do you know, okay, what’s one of those, should I be doing? Like, you can’t do all of them. So how do you know where to focus your time? And should you even be focusing on that sort of growth, like marketing side or should be doubling down and saying, can we smooth our customer service out, you know, smooth our logistics side, like, cause there’s so many other places internally that maybe paying all this money to kind of bring leads in. But how do you even know? You know, maybe they’re not checking, they’re not converting. They’re not, we could be upselling the better we should be doubling down after the checkout. Like how do you know that part of it Chloe (10:34): Back in the day I used to one-on-one help people to work out what they should be doing, you know, and what I’ve spent kind of like the last, maybe six, seven years is trying to turn what I used to do. One-On-One to Pete, for people into some models and systems that businesses can use themselves. Business owners can use themselves. Marketers can use themselves in order to connect the dots in order to make those decisions. And then, you know, I’ve tried to design them to keep people on track. And I guess it’s kind of, if we go go through three of them, I think this will, this will help everyone out there. So the first one is, think in quarters. So think three months at a time and focus on something, whatever it is you’re doing for a full three months, because one of the, one of the stupidest things we do as human beings is we go, right. Chloe (11:28): I’ll spend Monday working on that and do a little bit. And that was when Tuesday working on this and I’ll do a little bit on that. So maybe you spend Monday and you write half a blog, post Tuesday, you set up some Facebook ads, but not as far as you can put them live. Then Wednesday, you, you got obsessed by tech stocks. You spend the day trying to work out how to record a tech talk video Thursday, you then go, Oh my God, we need a new courier. And then Friday you, I don’t know, it’s implode or something and nothing’s finished. Everything’s half done. And you’ve not really immersed yourself in properly learning it because all these marketing channels we’re talking about, if you want to do them well, you’ve got to test and optimize and test and optimize and learn and test and optimize. Chloe (12:08): And it, it takes time to learn it. And if you try and learn three at once, you know, you’re deemed failure. So my first thing is to think in quarters and across a quarter, think about maybe three things you’re going to focus on. That’s what I try to do. I try to focus on three things and that might be this quarter. You’re going to master Facebook ads and you’ve got to sort out your pick pack and dispatch process. So as you can get some time back from that. And then the third part is that you’re going to, I don’t know, something else, you know, find a new product range or expand the business or something, you know, so you try and limit it to three. And those are the big things you’re going to focus on for the quarter. Then you can master them. And whilst you’re working on those still, okay, to get inspired with cool things and cool ideas, but have a list of stuff you’re not doing this quarter. Chloe (12:57): I do mine in a Google spreadsheet. You might do yours in a notebook. I’m an Evernote, a Google doc word, doc, doesn’t matter. You know, it could be a list on your phone, but keep a list of cool things that you might do in the future. And then when you get to the end of the quarter, you can kind of bring that back and go brilliant. I’ve got a big list of ideas, which 1:00 AM I excited by? Which one do I think is going to make the difference. So that’s kind of, that’s, that’s the first model tells you, okay. If I go into the second model. Charles (13:28): Yeah. And it also just reminds me the place, the book traction. I’m guessing. You’ve read that. Yeah. That makes me, and I’ve mentioned this before in the show and it’s, it feels like every time someone talks about this, like planning, traction is like this like thread. Very, I always see these common things that run through that book and what people successful plans basically on break stuff into quarters and I’ll link to that. And if people haven’t read it, they have a whole framework around this. And I think it’s fantastic. All right. Chloe (13:57): The book on getting focused in courses is called the 12 weeks. Yeah. The 12 week year. And it’s by Moran and Lennington, and they’re taking lessons from the big sports companies and those of you on the video, you can see I’ve even got tabs in this. This is how many times I refer to this book genius book for focusing on courses. I’m talking of Berks. My second one, my second piece of advice for your listeners is in this book, which is my most recent book been a bestseller in the UK for the last 12 months. And it’s called e-commerce marketing. How to get traffic that buys to your website. It’s I like to think it’s a little bit like the traction for e-commerce, but coming at it from a very different angle in that I’ve got chapters on different marketing methods. But traction is such an amazing, I’m not sure one can ever live up to it. Chloe (14:54): Anyway, before I convinced you or not to read my book I’m just flicking through to find the model. I want to tell you all about, because this I think is, is crucial for the world to be commerce. And it’s is a model. I call my customer master plan model, and I’ll talk it through for those of you who are listening. So it’s, it’s, e-commerce drilled down into six circles and a number of arrows. Okay. So if you imagine left to right gain, cross your screen, you’ve got six circles left to, right. We’ve got the world visitors, inquirers, first-time buyers, repeat buyers and regular buyers. None of those phrases should be a surprise to anyone listening in the world of e-commerce and these circles of the customer relationship level. So all the people in the world fit into one of these circles for your, your business and that relationship with you and where we focus as e-commerce people is we focus on moving people between the customer relationship levels. Chloe (15:49): So when you’re thinking about those quarter’s work out, where are you weakest? You weakest in getting people from the world to visit your website. Are you weakest in getting their email address once they get there, you weakest in turning them into a buyer, or you weakest in turning them into a repeat buyer, into a regular buyer. Where’s your weakness, or where’s there the great opportunity and then focus on that stage and fixing it for the full quarter. And that could pull in marketing ideas, website improvements, UX improvements, customer service improvements, packaging improvements, whatever you need to do. And if you focus on one for a whole quarter, you’ll make sure a big improvement. Charles (16:29): Yeah. I like the idea of doing that because you can always, you kind of have to tic talk back and forth. There’s going to be some point where you’re like, we just don’t have enough traffic. Okay. We need more traffic. Like we just need to figure this out. And then at some point you get enough traffic and they like, well, why didn’t they check it out? Okay. We need to figure that out. And it that’d be, if, if you’re successful, they get to a point where they’re like, okay, the fulfillment, the logistics is just like crushing us or the support after the fact, it’s just, it’s beating us up. So you need to almost like it’s just like pendulum back and forth. And then at some point, okay, I get that. I got after the checkout figured out, that’s nailed down. And you’re like, let’s see, I have more traffic. And you kind of have to swing back to that direction. And as soon as you do that, you’re gonna break something else. And you’re just in this constant breaking, fixing, and coming back and breaking it again. It’s a process. Chloe (17:13): It’s a bit like playing whack-a-mole. But I guess what I try to do is to, is to make the whack-a-mole focus, be on a slightly larger area and encompass a longer time span than every day, whacking another mole. Because I think otherwise you, you never get out of that cycle of prop of urgent problems. You want to get into improvements rather than fixing errors, I suppose. And I think focusing over a longer time period, and in one of those key stages between the customer relationship levels really is a good, is a good way to go about getting out of just the firefighting scenario. Yeah. Charles (17:50): Every day I try to remind myself to, you know, spend some time focusing on the focus on the important, over the urgent cause the urgent is always going to be there and you, you know, open up your email and there’s, you’ll find some, someone has something urgent they going to send to you. And sure. I could definitely be doing that. But the important stuff, that’s the stuff. No, one’s going to be coming to you going, like, you need to do this today. That’s up to you to sit down and say and sit back and kind of push back a little bit away from the desk and say, w what’s important right now. And not just let’s open the email and let’s figure out the next let’s like, let’s, you know, slim a coffee back and we’ll go, go, go. Chloe (18:24): Yeah, it it’s. Like I was saying earlier about how you can get you get obsessed by being busy in order to feel like you’re achieving something, the others, it feels great. It’s addictive. It’s like some days I find myself almost like flicking through LinkedIn to email in boxes, in Twitter, almost waiting for something to happen. So I can feel like I’ve achieved something. And it’s like, it’s those days. I’m like, yeah, I need to finish on time tonight because I’ve reached a point. I’m just scrolling through, looking for something to respond to, to make myself feel like I’ve achieved something. And that’s, that’s a sign you need some time out, everybody. Charles (19:02): It makes me feel like I’m a dopamine junkie or I’m just waiting for that next hit of like some something on Twitter, something popping up. And I’m like, I’m going to do this since. I mean, I’m going to get that little rush and like, yeah, Chloe (19:12): Irrelevant, please try and get all my podcasts. It was like a reply to you. Like, Charles (19:20): Yes, I a hundred percent agree. So yeah, I like that of breaking it up into quarters and kind of looking and that kind of gives you a longer and less whack-a-mole so at least, yeah, at least that you can sit back and there are certain things that you can’t really get into unless you really put some distance between you and those urgent things on you might need to sit there and think through something, journal, whatever, you know, whatever you have thought processes like the whiteboard something. And if you’re sitting there just like crushing emails every day, you’re just, you’re not going to do that. Chloe (19:51): You’ve got to create that brain space views. And I personally, I find, you know, diary blocking can be a great way of doing that. You know, looking at the week, you’re on a Friday, sit down and go, right next week, Monday is going to be about this. She used, there’s gonna be about this. Wednesday’s gonna be about this. And, and even if you do that, trust me, you’re probably gonna need to go that Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I’ll deal with the inbox thoroughly. Otherwise, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be like those things in the inbox and you can’t concentrate on anything anyway. So see, I try and work out with them. The works, Charles (20:19): If everyone’s watching on video, since we’re just pulling random books off camera, I just want to actually I happen to have that I’m telling you. So they sell this productivity planner, it’s they break up the week and they literally give you a space where you write out your weekly plan and then you break that into each day and you set your most important and every week the goal is and take stuff from last week. Figure out what’s important that week. And it kind of fits with the whole traction model of taking your quarter, then breaking it down. Okay. I know my three year goal. I know now what’s this year. Okay. What’s this quarter. Now it’s come up this, you know, sit down on a Sunday, come up with this week plan. And now when you come Monday morning, you don’t just get, you know this is like whiplash on like art, which I work on. Charles (21:04): And like you open your inbox and you’re like, let’s do that one, right? That you sit down and Monday, you know, here’s what I work on. And then when I’m done, okay, I’ll the email will still be there. Like the IMS, what everything will still be though. But at least it gives you something to, these are the important things I’m going to get done. And there’s only, like you said, there’s only going to be a few of them. There’s some overall larger ones. And then here are the big to do is to move forward. And so I love that concept. So I, I derailed you a number two though. So what was, was number? What was number two? Chloe (21:33): So number one was thinking quarter’s number two is the customer master plan model to make sure you’re, you’re segmenting your e-commerce work based on where your customers are in that journey. And then the third one is one which I got from a podcast guest an amazing lady who runs a business, selling goat, milk products of all things. And she does this and I think it’s so genius. I keep repeating it to people, which is when you’re thinking about those, when you, when you think about e-commerce, there are, you know, the basic equation is traffic times conversion rate times average order value equals sales, right? So we’ve kind of got three things we can do to grow. Our sales. One is improve. The conversion rate. One is improve the traffic volumes and the other one is improved the average order value. And she likes to think across the year of each quarter, she works on one of them. Chloe (22:27): So it comes back to the quarterly planning again. So think of a stage you’re going to work out in that customer master plan model, my number two, but then also think about, are we working on traffic? Are we working on conversion rate? Are we working on average order value? Partly because if you try and work on two at once, you won’t know which one’s working. But also because then you really, really get to grips with what for my audience is going to improve. The AOV is going to improve the traffic. Now the chances are you’re going to, you’re going to do traffic twice in a year and you’ll work on the other two for one or each, but it’s, it’s, it’s almost giving you the freedom to go. I tend to worry about average order value until next quarter. I’m just gonna focus on traffic. I’m just going to focus on this and clearing stuff out of the way can be really great way to give you that mind space to actually make the, make the improvements that work. Charles (23:22): I like that. So you kind of, you’re saying having some, like, almost like themes of the quarter, so here’s the theme you know, traffic and the type where the customer is in their journey and then just focusing on it for that quarter and kind of digging deep into that. Chloe (23:37): Yeah, exactly. It’s it gives you so much clarity on what to do and it makes it so much easier to decide what should I doing at this point in time? What’s the most important thing I could be doing? Charles (23:50): I think sometimes the difficult, the thing that people run into when they’re trying to do this is they set these larger themes up, like you’re saying and that day at that moment, they’re blocked right there. There’s something else happening where we’re doing a CMS migration the other day and it was, you know, consultants doing this and also it’s specs spectrum out. And then they were all just working. And for me personally, okay, I’m just kind of waiting and like, all right, I can check in with them each day, but like, I want you to actually, you know, you’re just being annoying at some point. So you’ve done all, you’ve done a lot of work upfront and now the balls, a lot of balls are in someone else’s court sort of thing. What do you do with those days on? Because if you start, if you’re like, Hey, I should be busy. Cause that’s like what I’m told to do, you’re going to just start going back to your old habits and get busy. And then when the consultants come back and say, Hey, can you review this show? Like I don’t have time you know, check on her, visit the unemployment stuff. Yeah. Chloe (24:46): I think part partly it’s just being aware. You have that kind of a tendency and then checking yourself again. Actually, it’s also about looking, you know, you were saying about, about, you know mapping out your weeks for the quarter and looking when the different projects are going to need you, when are you going to be needed to do this? Because if, if you, you know, if you, if you using consultants, et cetera, then you know, when something’s going to be coming back, well, you should have a pretty good idea when something’s coming back and you need to worry about it. So if you put that, if you know that next week, XYZ ed consultants coming back to you with something, you’re either going to need to action or review or sign off or test or something, you go, okay, next week I’m two days down. Chloe (25:28): So what should I be doing this week to make sure I’ve got two days to deal with it next week? So it’s always a case of kind of am I, am I putting things out to other people or am I making space to deal with the stuff that comes back from them? And it’s, it’s about taking a step back on quite a regular basis, go what actually to achieve what I want this quarter. What do I need to do this week? I know what I should also say is things change. And what you think you’re doing in week 13 of the quarter bit in week zero is probably not going to be the same thing because something would have taken longer. Something will have taken less time. So you will probably at least once a month, if not almost every week, be slightly retweaking those deadlines because there’s nothing worse than discovering in week two that something’s not going to be achievable in the quarter, but leaving it there as a goal, because it’s just going to make you feel awful, you know, and under pressure and, and, and failing. So always tweak these things based on what you learn as you go through the journey, because in a quarter you’re going to learn an awful lot about what is and isn’t possible. So do adapt. Charles (26:33): Yeah, that was actually one of the questions I was writing down where it’s, when you were saying that, that, you know, you have these great plans. W what was it Mike Tyson quote, everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face and you have, I know, I think it’s Tyson, but yeah, everyone has this plan until you punch in the face where, you know, you come up with these great plans. And this was, I think last year where I had a plan for the quarter, and we’re going to focus on this. And there was some huge infrastructure, like meltdown, and we need to migrate a database. Like it went from thinking like, Oh, we have like quarters to like, no, like this week, this is happening. And so like, you know, all of a sudden it’s like, no, this is all hands on deck. Charles (27:09): This is just what we’re going to be doing. Bring a DBA on. And that’s that. And so there’s no, like, there’s no optionality. You either do it. Or like, you just do it. There’s no choice. Right. So that whole plan just gets flushed out the window. And I think that’s, that’s tough sometimes because you come up with these plans and if you plan too far out, then all of a sudden now you’re like, all right, I have to push out every day. And I think we have a tendency to, when you said three things that, that gives you that Slack, that you need. Right. So if, when you do get punched in the face, it’s, you know, it’s not gonna ruin all of a sudden, okay, we’re missing everything. You know, we had 50 things we’re going to do. And 49 of them are just out the window. Now, three you’re building in some, some slacks and margin. And I think that’s what a lot of people do is they over estimate their abilities. I do a toe feel like I’m going to do, I’m gonna move the world. I’m gonna like move this. It’s going to be huge. As in you just feel like sad after that. Okay. I didn’t, I didn’t do 50 things. That’s terrible. But if you sat down to something reasonable that gives you that like room to expand and contract when needed Chloe (28:16): Oh, completely. And whilst, you know, you, it sounds a bit crazy. We’re going to create this plan, but we know it’s going to change. It’s an awful lot easier to change if you’ve got a plan in the first place. Whereas if you have a, you know, a blank sheet sheet of paper and you’re constantly firefighting, and then something like that, massive site server migration comes along. Then you, you kind of like you gets the end of the server migration. You’re probably a little bit worn out and frazzled around the edges and you’re going, what should I be doing? I can’t even remember what I should be doing anymore. So you just fall straight back into firefighting. Whereas if you’ve got a plan, you can at least go back and go, what should I have been doing last week? Right. What’s the best way for us to recover from this? Not what’s the best way for me this week to do all last week’s work as well, but how do we rejig it to make it possible for us to sell, to do great work? Charles (29:03): Yeah, that’s a good point. And I think the hard part about all of this is we’re all, you know, in this kind of digital world addicted to that dopamine, right? That rush of like, if you’re a founder, whatever you’re doing, even just anything now, you just you’re addicted to just like producing, producing. And when you have to you, it feels like you’re, it feels almost wrong. Sometimes you have to really like teach yourself to slowing down and planning. Planning is still work, but it doesn’t feel like work on that planning day. That planning time feels very different and it doesn’t give you that same high, but you have to kinda, you know, do you have any tricks to kind of reminding yourself that like this planning work is actually planning to work on the right thing is actually like more important than a lot of cases than just doing a bunch of work, just because, yeah, Chloe (29:48): I see, I see that my, my problem is that I could spend all day planning and never actually get anything done. It’s probably my most favorite form of procrastination, but then you realize that about yourself and you’re trying not to spend too much time planning, and then you realize you should have spent more time planning. So it’s kind of a vicious circle. So what, what I try to do is I try to have a rhythm across them the month across the quarter of when I do certain things. So, you know, on a Friday, Thursday or Friday, I’ll plan, the following week’s work with that’s when I get in depth into what the following week is going to be at the end of each day, Charles (30:23): Have this blocked off, blocked off in your calendar, sort of thing. Like this is my Thursday planning time. Chloe (30:28): It’s a standard task for ideally for Thursday, but often it falls into Friday and that’s okay in my world. So it’s, it’s not quite a blocked off space, but Fridays, I always have no meetings. And that’s when I set, you know, deal with podcasts and various other things, but fits in that day of tasks. And then that sets up the week. And then in the last two weeks of the quarter is when I’ll start looking at the following quarter. Cause there’s no point in looking at it sooner than that in my business, in most businesses. And there’s no point in fully fleshing out what two weeks from now looks like I’ll dump stuff into two weeks from now and four weeks from now and five weeks from now, depending on things that I know have to happen then, but I’m not going to go in depth to it until the time comes. So that’s so it’s, it’s kind of spacing out the diary in that way I find is, is the way to do it. So a regular, weekly check-in, and some point was the end of each day, do a detailed plan for the following day because things can even go awry in a week, you know, and you may have to revisit your actually, I may have wanted to work on that awesome project tomorrow, but I’ve got this problem that I’ve got to solve. That’s more urgent. So I’ll, I’ll realign my, my goals around that one. Charles (31:42): Yeah. I think it’s important too, for anyone listening. A lot of this comes down when we say in a week or a month or a quarter, a lot of a quarter is kind of a natural time. Like, I, it sounds very like businessy, like what’s your Q1 plan, but it’s just nice to break up. It just, it actually feels kind of natural. I see how that, I see how it’s folks decide to break up years into quarters. Cause it just feels like it makes sense, but some of it does come down to scale, right? Like I’ve talked to retailers that, you know, they’re in the hundreds of millions of revenue and they look at stuff to building a warehouse and like planning alpha, like you’re their thought is just going out into five-year plus plans at all times. Cause like if you’re building physical structures and just moving and you’re doing that sort of level, you have to think further out. And also when the business was small, I would also think out by like three hours and like, it was just a constant cause like literally the entire business could change in a matter hours when we’re of a certain scale. And yeah, so part of it is just depending on scale as well too. Chloe (32:45): I, I think, I think it’s you’re right. Sometimes there are those much, much longer term projects, you know, pro if you’re developing your own skincare products, that’s, you know, longer than a, than a month or a quarter to get that done and such things. But, but I think I generally come at things from kind of the marketing standpoint and I think very few businesses can outline exactly what their marketing plan is going to be 12 months ahead these days, you know where you were, you mentioned clubhouse and I didn’t know, clubhouse existed a month or so ago and I’ve had two past podcast guests get in touch and ask me why I’m not yet on clubhouse that never happens. So that’s, that’s been one of the curve balls I will be paying attention to in the next couple of weeks. But it’s you say marketing? Chloe (33:29): I don’t think even the biggest business can really go out much more than a quarter at a time in any depth in retail. And I think the smallest business should be thinking of quarter at a time, even though they feel like it’s, you know, they’re, they’re probably still, it’s still feeling, I suppose they’re going, Oh my God, it’s Friday. And we haven’t sent an email this week. We better send an email or Christ. It’s been, it’s been two weeks since I looked at my Google ads. You know, you, you need to be looking longer than just those, those short time span. So I think for marketing most businesses, a quarter’s a really good way to be structuring things, but then, you know, but then you and the business, you may have those bigger projects, like warehouse moves, et cetera, which, which have to be looked up over a longer time span, Charles (34:14): I guess that’s to be looked at over a long time span, but you can logically still break up pieces of that into the quarter, right? Like, you know, you going to want to migrate from Magento to big commerce or whatever it is, and that might take six to 12 months or whatever, whatever that is. And you can, but you break that up into, okay, what are we to get this big 12 month project going this quarter? What is the quarter piece of that project? So you can still bite it, break it off into little bite-size chunks. It sounds like. And then it’s a little more, you can wrap your head around mash Chloe (34:45): Completely. So it might be, you know, Q1 is about working out exactly what you need from the new website and scoping out, making the decision to you, go Magento, big commerce, Shopify, or something else, and create your short list of agencies that might be your Q1 task. And then Q2 will be about identifying which agencies building it. Q3 will be about actually building. So you can, it might be one of those three things. So you might have Facebook ads, you might have we’re going to focus on turning inquiries into buyers. And then the other thing which we’re going to do is we’re going to work on this big project. So it could be within the quarter, but you want to have some definite goals that happen within that quarter. Charles (35:26): I like, yes. Awesome. This is a good place to end it. I think that was super helpful. I’m going to link to a bunch of good books in the show notes. So if I want us to check any of those out if also want to kind of find Speaker 3 (35:38): You check out the podcast, check out the book what can they do that? Chloe (35:41): I mean, you can learn everything I’m up to at e-commerce master plan.com. There you’ll find links to both the podcast and all the books I’ve written. You’ll find links to information about the models I mentioned, and you find out how to get in contact with me too. So e-commerce master plan.com. Speaker 3 (35:59): Awesome. I’ll link to that show notes. Thanks a lot. Come on. It’s great Avenue. Chloe (36:01): It’s been brilliant to be here and been a really interesting discussion. So thanks for having me on.
42 minutes | Feb 3, 2021
What causes exponential growth? (E156)
https://www.youtube.com/embed/GyD6cHnjfdA Dr. James Richardson Founder of Premium Growth Solutions Sponsors: Prisync Spark Shipping Links: Ramping Your Brand Premium Growth Solutions Bio: Dr. Richardson is the founder of Premium Growth Solutions,a strategic planning consultancy for early-stage consumer- packaged goods brands. As a professionally trained cultural anthropologist turned business strategist, he has helped more than 75 CPG brands with their strategic planning, including brands owned by Coca-Cola Venturing and Emerging Brands, The Hershey Company, General Mills, Kraft Foods, ConAgra Brands, and Frito-Lay as well as emerging brands such as Once Upon a Farm, Peatos, Ithaca Hummus, Mother Kombucha, Rebel Creamery, zaca recovery, and others. James is the author of Ramping Your Brand: How to Ride the Killer CPG Growth Curve, the #1 Best-seller in Business Consulting on Amazon. He also hosts his own podcast—Startup Confidential, and his thoughts appear regularly in industry publications such as Foodnavigator. Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the Business of eCommerce. I talk with Dr. James Richardson about what causes exponential growth. This is a business of eCommerce episode, 157. Charles (00:20): Welcome to the business. E-Commerce the show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow the e-commerce business. I’m your host, Charles Palleschi. And I’m here today with Dr. James Richardson. James is the founder of premium growth solutions, a strategic planning consultancy for early stage consumer packaged good brands as a professionally trained cultural anthropologist turned business strategist. He has helped wasn’t 75 CPG brands with the strategic plans. Some of those brands include read them off air Hershey’s general mills, Kraft food. Frito-Lay a list goes on how he’s helped a lot of brands. And he’s super interesting take on growing the business and what to really focus your time and attention on. And I think that’s the big thing here on. If you really want to double down, he kind of talks about here’s the exact segment and here’s how you should find that segment and who should be focusing on. So I think that part’s super helpful on really kind of nailing who to focus on if you want to be able to really scale your business and see that year over year exponential growth. So let’s get into the show and I think he has some great tips. Also, he links to his book at the end that we’ll link in the show notes. So let’s check that out. So, Hey James, how you doing today? James (01:32): I’m good. How are you doing Charles? Charles (01:34): I’m good. Awesome. To have you on the show to dig into this topic a bit, we’re talking earlier about exponential growth and how there’s some DCC brands that seem to get it and others wish they got it and others never do. And it seems to be this like magic formula people think, but you’ve kind of talked about this a bit. So curious to kinda get your thoughts on that. James (01:59): Yeah, so I I do work with a mix Adidas C and retail only brands, but I think what I, what we were just chatting about, I think before we hit record, was that I meet a lot of DTC folks who thanks to the internet itself are well-versed in all the KPIs of D to C business management. And they’re, they’re drowning in data and lifetime value and average order value and all this stuff. They try to measure the health of their business purely within the context of those data points, which are coming in through Shopify essentially. But they’re not necessarily asking at any point, even if they’re doing well, which is actually just as important. And in my view asking why, why are people repeating what behavioral is attracting them to like constant purchase on a monthly basis or weekly basis, if you’re really lucky and you’re able to sell like drinks to people or stuff. James (03:00): But I mean, if you’re not asking the question, why are people repeating? It’s going to be very hard Charles to put together any kind of like marketing playbook, whether that marketing is purely online or online and offline that is going to have the right messaging and have the right symbolism to find, to create more of those repeaters out there in the universe. Right? Yeah. In other words, so there’s two basic, there’s two basic approaches to fast growth. And I think D to C you’ve seen it too. I’m sure in your client base is basically they’re sorta raise a bunch of cash and buy a ton of trial through, through newsfeed ads and just, just ramp the trial up through the roof. And if I get repeat well, that’s, that’s okay. But yeah, Charles (03:50): That’s the the star, you kind of just juice the numbers and if you’ve got to have people coming to the site, you know, you know, you’re gonna James (03:58): There’s, I mean, in Silicon Valley, there’s a whole crowd of investors. That’s the, basically their model. Yeah. Like they don’t actually worry about lifetime value or annual revenue per user. They, they worry about user count, user flow, acceleration of trial, all this stuff, all the front end of the business, the front end of top line. But what’s keeping the top line. What determines of a top line goes exponential is repeat and the quantity of it and how much those repeat people are buying. Because if you can get 10% of your customer base channels to buy you monthly while everyone else is dabbling, the 90% and half of them never come back, but you can get 10% to repeat on a monthly basis. And they’re spending, you know, they’re buying a half a case or case your product. And that’s how they buy online in my world and consumer packaged goods when a case of Spindrift and otherwise I’m not coming to your website. James (04:49): I don’t want one, can I want a case of Spindrift. And I want it every bloody month. And those consumers end up creating an enormous amount of annual revenue for that brand. Right. If they can actually pull that off now, Spindrift does it through Amazon, not D to C and that’s smart for logistic reasons, but even if you were doing Adidas, see the question is who are those people and what is it about them so that you can go out into the white space of the population and, and find more people like that by learning the behavior of the people who generate that kind of profitability for you. And what makes it exponential is that you don’t you don’t have to add nearly as many of those people to start to bend your top line up exponentially. And if you can grow that number, like say, you say you have a repeat heavy user rate of like 5% in the beginning, and then you get it up to 10% in a year and then it’s up. And then as you scale that group you can, and scale their frequency as well. You, you actually accelerate your business to scale much, much faster than buying trial. More importantly, you can do it for like far less money. Charles (06:05): I say, well, and the thing about that is if you know this, this one type of customer, right, that, you know, you have your customer, your Titus out a hundred percent of them, but you know, this is 5% and they’re the 5% they’re going to repeat. You could spend astronomically more to market on just that 5%, because you know that first sale, you can, you could lose on that, who cares, but you’re gonna make it up and sell. James (06:28): Well, that’s a great, that’s a great point that you raised. Cause I often we’re, I often, I don’t work with a lot of startups myself. But when I do, I dialogue with them online on LinkedIn live and other four, where I show up and I, and they often ask me about, you know, should I spend, we’re talking to brands that are, sound like 200 grand trailing, right. Should I spend on Instagram ads? And you know, and if they’re in retail, I basically say now in most cases, because they’re not in a category in my industry, the category is so important because it depends how frequently it’s consumed and bought. So like people drink bottled water. People who have bottled water in their home, drink it at a base level of frequency. And then the heavy users will drink it like three bottles a day. Charles (07:13): This week’s episode is sponsored by Prisync. Prisync is a competitor price tracking and repricing tool that helps e-commerce companies make intelligent pricing decisions. Using the dashboard and daily Excel reports Online sellers can monitor price changes and immediately make pricing adjustments. Here’s some features that I love about Prisync. First is smart match. What smart match does is allows Prisync to search for our competitors and attach their prices right on your dashboard. So you can monitor their pricing changes against competitors. You already know about, they find competitors. You didn’t even know existed. Once you have that, you can configure your repricing rules. What this does is you can now set your prices to be based on the average price, the lowest price, the highest price of your competitors go up and down. And also you can say, don’t go lower than my cost by plus $5. Whatever you want to do, you can set these rules and pricing will automatically adjust your prices. Next is price change notifications. You can set rules to when prices change pricing will send you a notification alerting you of your competitors. Prisync changes last, but not least is a price history. You can then go in to the dashboard and look up all the pricing changes over time, the price, and because of monitoring that way, you know, just because it’s slower today, they might just be having a sale and it might come back tomorrow. You can see all your competitors on one charge. Super cool. I urge you to check it out. Thanks again for Prisync, for sponsoring this week’s episode. Now back to the show. James (08:54): What would be an example, a category when you say Charles (08:56): Like just a, the retail of soda in that sub category, James (08:59): You shop at grocery store. So like soda versus packaged rice or potatoes. So it’s how you shop at grocery store basically. And, and the problem is that in food and beverage and CBG, the, the rates of consumption, they there’s an enormous continuum. In how fast you empty a container, how many containers you buy on a shopping trip, whether it’s online or offline. So I meet a lot of people who are like, I don’t know, they’re selling like gluten-free cookie mix, right? That stuff doesn’t move, right? The heavy users actually don’t even buy it that much. No, seriously. If you study them, it had just a snail category. And so it’s a really bad, bad category to invest in paid advertising of any kind, especially online, because, you know, you could do the wat. If you do the advertising thing, like $8 for an Instagram click, you basically have to spend two to $300 to get a repeat user, but they’re not buying, they’re not buying enough every year, Charles of the gluten-free brownie mix to make your money back. And just, but when you sell a case of Spindrift, it literally only takes you about three months to make all your money back Charles (10:06): Those guys though, because when you start thinking about that, maybe there is some, okay, there’s a tiny little number of gluten-free muffin shops, right. That they’re going to just, they need to buy the stuff every week. And if you identify that one avatar on like, you know, we don’t sell to, gluten-free like regular people, we sell just a gluten-free bakeries and maybe right. They’re gonna, they might have to buy multiple cases per week. Like I was even that’s the way. James (10:31): And that’s the way you think yourself out of those traps. Right. Cause so, so something like something like an ingredient category often, like the end consumer is actually not the wisest target audience. Right. You just, yeah. It’s actually a business is probably a better target Charles (10:47): A business, or even like a one example when you were just talking, I was just kind of throwing some notes out on when, when would this it work, right? Like when is this not a good idea? And it’s kind of, I like to frame it in both ways, right. Because they’re thinking, well, okay, let’s say I’m a bed retailer, right? Like I bought one bed like 15 years ago, I just bought another one. But then I start thinking, well, if I had, you know I know some folks that have multiple Airbnbs, right. To have several of them, and they’re constantly, they have, you know, three bedroom houses and they have multiple three bed houses and the beds in a year get destroyed. So they’re just, they just turned their beds. I’m thinking if you just targeted, you know? So you could spend for that click tons of money on just after being beat lawyers. Right. And you sell your bed is an Airbnb bed. Yup. They advertise. James (11:31): So the, I work in a industry with very low unit pricing. So every sale, the average sale is about two 50. Charles (11:40): Okay. This is all packaged goods. James (11:43): Yeah. I mean, it’s like, it’s it basically it’s worthless. So it’s, it’s super dependent on volumes sales before anyone starts taking money. And so that’s a very strange, it has a very high standard for ad return. But what’s interesting is you can actually, if you sell soft drinks or like beer, even as a startup, you can actually develop a really nice return, even if you’re only in retail, because at that $8 click, all you have to, if you can create 10%, have a user with a fantastic product that people really like, you know, you spend, you might spend three to $400 to get every heavy user, but they’re buying like a case a month. So you’re going to make it all back during one year. And if you can keep them for two years or three years in your brand, now you’re making money and along and along the way you bring some dabblers and triers and they pay the cost of the ad. James (12:30): But when you’re, when you’re in something that’s bought very infrequently and not in large volume, that’s when people get in trouble. But yeah, like if you have a super high ticket, durable goods, like a mattress, the frequency of the purchase doesn’t matter because you’re going to get that advertising return. But I was thinking like I have a, I have a friend who sells a really great tasting, mixed nut, but he just, people don’t buy jars of mixed nuts that often they just don’t anymore. They did in the eighties, people used to plow through, it’s just not an on-trend category. And so he can’t do anything about that cultural background. And so he would never get the return because his average person’s probably buying three, four jars a year. Charles (13:14): So what would you say that, what would you say to those folks? Would you be, Hey, let’s like, let’s find the, you know, mixed, not connoisseurs or like, what would you recommend to that person if they’re, if they’re already in that category so fine. Maybe they shouldn’t get into that category today, but if they’re already there and they have an established brand, how could they start really like hammer down on that target market? James (13:37): I think that, you know, they’re they may have some constraint, playbook options and paid advertising. It’s not going to be one of them. So they’re going to have to leverage cheaper digital techniques to get word of mouth. And for companies that don’t have the ability to, they don’t have a category that’s amenable to a lot of, out of store acceleration, which is soft drinks and beer and liquor and snacks and like nutrition, bars, and lights, and like that lifestyle and athletic kind of products. Then they’re going to have to be more patient and stay in one city and build the business up there before they go crazy. And that’s, I see people get in my industry. They, they get frustrated because they realize, Oh yeah, I’m the mix nut die. And I don’t have a lot of, I don’t have the options of a Spindrift. James (14:21): I don’t have the book options. And I know that because I’ve studied up on this, but then they go and do crazy stuff like fire themselves out nationally to try to ramp up stores and distribution. When in reality, they would probably be better off going to a third-party site like Amazon, which has the most Bibles and consumer packaged goods in the world. And just working in advertising algorithm where you can actually get a meaningful return because you’ll find it’s easier on Amazon, for example, to find the mix nut who like wants to buy a gallon of cool mix knots, trying to find them at your average grocery store, it’s going to be beyond a needle in a haystack, but they’re on Amazon. Charles (15:03): I think, I think that’s what gets people like sucked in, right? Cause you go to conferences, your blog posts, you hear all the success stories and you hear, you know, higher up my business from, you know, zero to 100 million a year using paid ads. And they showed us it’s a company and they have like hit it out of the pocket and you’re like, cool, I should do that. And then you have someone else, like how I’ve gone from Sarah to a hundred million using content marketing. They’re like, cool, I should do that. And you basically getting whiplash with all these different techniques, because you’re lucky to know they did it using content marketing paid you know, PPC, social, and you kind of look at all these different things. You’re like, cool. We should do a little, all of that. And you always kind of see, okay, the companies that do real well are the ones who find that like fit on your, the, you know, the nut retailer and which of these channels makes the most sense. Just ignore everything else initially. And just go and go and just hammer down on a channel. James (15:55): I do think since most people are having a mediocre time. And if you look at the average startup as trying to grow in any industry, it’s really important to ask this, to go out there as you’re struggling and have the maturity and the objectivity go and inquire why with people who are either rejecting you and the nice thing, if you’re D to C, you can actually find the rejectors, right? Cause they bought and then they never bought again. And you have their email address. You can actually go out and learn what was it that caused you to stop buying? And then you can compare that with your repeat purchases and see, Oh, I see the contrast between these two groups. And now I know more about this other group, my repeaters they’re the high value people. I know maybe know a little bit more about them psychologically or sociologically, which is sort of my background. James (16:40): And now I have some variables that can go out into Facebook, Cape Pam Bay, campaign manager, or you know, which is the most, which is the cheapest tool to use in absolute terms and go find and use the targeting variable with, you know, wizardry of Facebook ad manager, which is amazing. I mean the level of nuance that you can target is crazy, but you have to know what to look for, right? And if you don’t study the people who are making you the most money today, you’re not going to efficiently scale your business really well. So like I have a client who’s selling Swedish difficult dishcloths and, and she struggled in retail initially. These are these beautiful sort of bamboo woven. They’re totally compostable, by the way, you can just, they just biodegrade like 30 days. So it’s not like the nylon dish cloth to get at target, which is the last forever in the landfill. James (17:31): It only costs a buck 50 it’s cost a fortune, but they’re there and she’s a designer, she’s an artist. So she puts see, put draws designs and they get printed on them. So you end up having this piece of art in your kitchen saying not just some ugly rack. So it’s a very interesting, she’s found a space where no art in the American kitchen and she’s like cutting boards dishcloths. And so she’s putting design on them and she’s just created this Facebook, Instagram flywheel. And I took her like two years to figure it out and to figure out through some research light research, you know, how, who these, who these women were that were interested in having design in these bizarre objects that no one else cares about, but man, do they buy a lot of stuff from her? I mean, what we’re talking orders like $150 in order $200 in order. James (18:21): So the order value these people and they’re buying like five, six times a year and the real geeks are buying. They’re buying like a thousand dollars a year in gifts for other people. She’s got these super valuable people. And she found out as you start to experiment with social media, Charles, that, Oh, they, they love the artistic component, but they really, the reason they kept camping back to her site was because they kept seeing her do videos and Facebook live and all this, they let her, they wanted to interact with her. They basically wanted to have her over for tea. And then they just throwing money at her. And then I’m like, I was like, yes, you have figured this out because the biggest asset you have is I was an unknown brand. I mean, you don’t target, right. You don’t have this mega retail brand behind you, but you ha you have the ability to create a relationship with people then, you know, no big company is ever going to waste their time doing that. Charles (19:16): Well, and it’s funny because targets does that just on a much smaller level, right? You see the, about the steward brand that they have collections and they find someone that’s already popular. James (19:25): So our goal is we want to get, I want to get her into target, but she’s got to ramp this thing up so that it seems valuable to them. Right. But she’s, she’s well on her way. I mean, she’s got a national base of people and it’s growing exponentially, but it’s growing, it’s growing exponentially off a small base. And that’s why we want to talk to your listeners about, because I think when we read the zero to a hundred million in a year and a half, which still happens, I mean, it really does. It’s just, it’s not as common as you’d think. But it does, it happens enough that people think it’s some kind of model. If you slow the pace of, to scale down Charles, a little bit, you, Y you arrive at exponential growth and it, it, basically anybody listening can pull up Excel and see how it works, right? James (20:02): If you could get to half a million in maybe a couple years just struggling and it’ll be slow, you know, but then double every year after that, you can see, you can see the, what, what I call in my book, ramping your brand. What I call the skate ramp, which is this quarter pipe skate ramp sort of figure. It’s basically the S and business school. It’s the front half of the Esker. And what happens on the S-curve is you’re scaling you’re doubling every year, but the, the top-line doesn’t look like it’s moving. It’s like the beginning of the skate park ramp. You’re not really going up very fast. But then you get halfway up the ramp and suddenly the thing is going practically vertical, right? And that’s exactly what happens when you can double a business off of a heavy user, increasing the heavy user base at a steady clip. And if you can keep doing that every year, you are going to create this exponential curve. Cause they’re, they’re 10 times more valuable financially than some due to just randomly buys one off your site. Charles (21:02): Yeah. Cause doubling every year, right. Is 6% a month. When you start thinking, well, you stopped breaking out in terms of monthly it’s 6% month over month growth. And when you think of 60% of what you did last month, you’re like, ah, I got that. Like, that’s achievable. You’re not going to have like, you know, logistics issues. Like you can, everyone can ramp up six from what they did 30 days ago. And then that James (21:22): It’s easier said than done. I can say that this client I’m finding, she struggled in finding the ad content, everything else for about a year and almost gave up. And I just told her to keep pushing because it’s like, there’s an experimental component to, and she finally found how to communicate with this niche. And now she’s doubling down on it. And it’s like a machine. And her return on ad spend is phenomenal. You were talking to somebody who raised almost no money. You’re running it out of her house. She’s got a return on ad spend that would make a lot of people listening here. Jealous. How do you find those? Charles (21:53): Do you find those users though? That’s the thing? Cause let’s say you have two checkouts, one by one’s from Fred one from Joe. And how do you know that? Like what do you look at? And you just have Joe gmail.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. And what do you like? How you looking and saying, Oh, you worth 10 times with Fred is like, how do you know that going James (22:11): The way I talk to people who have the luxury of this data is that you want to, you don’t want to just study the basic trial, repeat, split that a lot of DTC people know already know about. You need to look at the extended repeat patterns. So you need to look at the smaller group within your repeat group that are buying on a S on a, what we would call a cyclical or habitual basis. And some of it could be a mix of, of embedded, habitual purchasing has to do with their daily life in combination with seasonal buying, which is what this, my dish cloth client has. Right? Because she’s got a huge Q4 business, obviously, but she’s getting all, she’s getting so much of it from her or geeks who were buying all year long. Anyway. It’s like, she just gets a huge search from them. James (22:55): At the end, those patterns are something that you have to be able to look at the data at a monthly level and break it out and decompose it over 12 months, or look at two years of your data and see where these folks are. Then if you can isolate them, what I tell people is you fire out, you fire out a somewhat cleverly written survey, but even better than a survey, which is dangerous because you tend to ask founders that I work with, tend to ask loaded questions and stuff like that in reality, be better to actually get them on the telephone. And the thing is, people never even think about this. They never think about why don’t I just call like some of my top customers or it send them an email and say, can we have a chat? I mean, I guarantee you, 75% of them will say yes, if they’ve spent like a thousand dollars last year with you, they would absolutely kill to talk to the owner. James (23:44): I mean, think it it’s like common sense. So you’re waiting for these people are probably dying to tell you all sorts of stuff. If you could just get them on the phone, it’s like a 20th century idea. I know. So do a video call if it has to be 21st century, but it’s just like talk to them and listen, listen to how they talk about how they use your products, how they think about them. That’s where the gold comes from in terms of messaging to optimize your LinkedIn ads, your Facebook ads is, you know, what are the, what are the key attributes of my product or service that I need to highlight? Oh, it wasn’t what I thought. You know, I started this company for X, Y, and Z, but my repeat fans who are spending tons of money every year telling me, no, I don’t care that your dishcloths are sustainable. What I care is that blank. I have something pretty to look at my sink. It’s like, it’s often much more banal and not as interesting as the founder’s motive for starting the cup. It’s often a lot less sexy people. That’s what I’ve always found. Charles (24:39): Well, you see all the time and scripts and business, for example, there’s a top-line number of churn, right? Everyone kind of talks about what’s the churn versus industry average. And when you really break it down, it’s almost a useless number, right? Because there’s th there’s these folks signing up that they’re going to be that one time, they’re gonna stick around for a very short time and they’re going to turn out. But then there’s, what is the actual turn number of that target that you can just like, you know, once they sign up, they’re going to be lifetime users, right? Like, yeah. James (25:06): Whatever. When I think of Adidas, see businesses, and then the ones I worked in last couple of years, the, the metrics that, the numbers that concern me are not standard. Things discussed on the internet. When I go to like how to run a DDC business, I get concerned when churn is like more than 90%. Yeah. That’s a yes. Right? I get concerned when your repeat customers all churn out after 12 months. Yep. And it’s a product that they should be loyal to. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be. Because if you’re, if you’re spending all this ad money, trying to bring people into a brand franchise, you need to keep them around for at least two to three years at some level of repeat purchasing, or you’re not, you’re not creating layers to your foundation, your business, and you know, which is part of growing up this exponential growth curve, right. James (25:55): You’ve got to keep them at least for two to three years, they’ll eventually get bored of you. I mean, that’s sort of, that’s the world we live in and consumer in a postmodern consumer society. But if you can’t keep them for, that’s why I’ve had a couple of clients where they’re like hire, they try, they hire me like six months into their overfunded DDC. And I’m like, I’m like, guys, things look really good now, but you haven’t even been around long enough to look at one of the key KPIs is where are all these people in another seven months dies because you can act the problem. The problem will return. If you have enough money, if you have enough money on Instagram and you can, and you have good advertising copy, you actually could create a problem, which is you can create a fad. You can really create an online fad that will grow really fast. It might even get rid of written up by Inc magazine as some amazing unicorn. And then 18 months later, it starts collapsing. Charles (26:48): Yeah. Cause you don’t have to have sustainable purchase. Right. You didn’t know. James (26:51): I need enough to realize, Hmm. I just spot a whole bunch of trial. I didn’t really target my advertising at the people who were going to live with this brand and find more of those people. I just use like shock advertising or attention, getting advertising to get a whole bunch of orders in my system. Right. I can’t name names, but there’s more than one of these. Charles (27:14): I’ve talked about a bunch of those show where everyone kind of tells you going into it. Like you gotta sit down and create this like customer avatar and you gotta have different and you gotta really understand them. And that’s like the step that everyone goes. Yeah, definitely. And they just skip right over it and they keep going. Let’s not run some Facebook ads. James (27:29): And I think the pro I mean, I talk, I’m an anthropologist. So I, I grown because I don’t avatar is just, that’s the video game version of saying some good grass, graphic or personality is the popular, that’s the time magazine word. Right. And Americans were biased towards thinking about behavior psychologically. That’s a cultural issue that has nothing to do with reality. We are, psychologists are in the media all the time. They’re the professors of psychology are much better network. They write a thousand more books than my colleagues too. We have my colleagues get Malcolm Gladwell to go to the New York library and read our stuff and then write about, so the social science perspective on this is that you, you are you’re actually able to accelerate really fast, including with paid advertising. If you can find out not only who your repeat customers are and why, but if you can find out which highly socially networked subgroups subpopulations in the United States, and those are usually related to occupation or some kind of recreational activity, those two things. James (28:35): And I talk some of my book ramping your brand. If you can figure out if you’ve got like some weird skew, like, do you have like an abnormal number of surfers or whatever it is. And then double down on that group in the early years, you can get wild acceleration because in a tightly network community of people who love because of the sacrifices they make to be part of that community, right? Whether it’s a job or whether it’s a recreational thing, I used to be a mountain biker, for example. So, you know, they will constantly share information within that highly networked group. In fact, they, they have to share information to sustain credibility in the group, but you can’t just work. So, so sharing, Oh, I found this and dah, dah dah, and this tool, and not at if you can have a relevant product in insert into one of those highly networked groups, the word of mouth just blows up like crazy. This is how cliff bar built itself to a hundred million dollar business in like seven or eight years in the nineties. I mean, it’s a long gone case study that we’ve all forgotten about it, but it was all done through the mountain bike community in the West coast. And it was mostly word of mouth. And by any marketing now it helps when you’re a founder is a radical, like long haul mountain biking, super geek probably knew it. He probably had a thousand mountain biking friends that he could see this Charles (29:54): Was it. He has an audience already. He goes to those events. He’s just in that world. Right. But you’re saying if you’re, if you’re not right, like you let’s say you start off day one and you haven’t really like, nailed us. Just start getting some orders, like get some volume coming in at some point, then start seeing, okay, out of these orders, who are the folks that actually buy it more than once. So who was just like my top 10, top five, just keep going to that top percent and then just start researching them and get your data points. James (30:21): The conversations with your top customers who, you know, at why do you use it? And it, that basic question is sort of counterintuitive to most entrepreneurs. They know why they founded the company. And it seems like a stupid question. Why would I ask them why they’re, but you have to be that objective. You have to step back. And the presume you’d have no clue why they’re buying it because that’s when you might learn something interesting. Like, well, I take this on my mountain biking trips every weekend and you didn’t even see that coming. And now you have a clue that, Oh, wow, there’s maybe a community where I could use these three customers who are mountain bikers to go invade that community. Right. And in the early years, shipping like a free case to someone who’s a, who’s actually an influencer inside a social tightly organized social network. Like that is that a thousand times more valuable than advertising some generic audience, even on Facebook. Charles (31:16): But the first key is you gotta target that audit. You gotta, you gotta find what that audience, and then find that influencer in that niche. Yeah. James (31:23): You know what it takes Charles? It takes time. Yeah. That’s all, it takes nothing. I described as cost any money really. But people are often so busy operating and they lose to an operational reality. They don’t feel like they have the time to do some basic stuff. But like, I even have a course on my website. It’ll teach you how to do this research in like six hours. It’s not, it’s not super complicated stuff. It actually doesn’t take a lot of time. It just feels overwhelming. If it’s not something you’re used to doing, but I really tell people that you want to do it because that’s how you can, you can accelerate your passage through the doldrums, which most people go through in the early years where they’re like, they’re not getting the acceleration. They need the ads aren’t quite working. They haven’t figured it out. James (32:05): And the secret is going to lie with your highly profitable repeat buyers, but you gotta be able to get into their lifestyle and understand it’s not their psychology that matters. It’s how they live their life and how they use who they, who they hang out with and how they promote and use your product and everyday life. And that’s the secret therein lies the secret of, of finding more of them. But what I’ve found is that a lot of people, fans, especially love to talk about, they love to talk with the brand because they’re so committed. I like, so this is like the easiest group to research. I Charles (32:40): Used to people think it’s scary. People think they’re like, not gonna answer the phone. If you just, if you, if you get an order and I’ve seen people do this and it works like 90% of the time, 98% of the time, you just get an order and it’s a high value order. Repeat customer, you just call. And you’re like, Hey, you know, Mary, I just want to, I saw this order. It’s a third order. I just want to double-check, you know, we got everything in the pack that just the way you want, if you order these three skews, you’re like, great. And you’re like, by the way, what do you, what are you doing with this stuff? Just like people just start talking and you could be on the phone for as long as you want. James (33:09): Now there’s a you. And I know that there’s a subsegment of people who, whose barrier to doing that. Charles is there actually could be honest, too arrogant. That’d be, I mean, I’ve met these guys. You’ve met them too. I call them the, I call them the DDC bros. It’s just like, come on. Like, yeah. They think if I talk to the consumer, then I come off as some stupid little artists in titling the company. And I want to be this big brand from day one. And it’s just like, man, you have to earn the right to be that you can’t just start there. Charles (33:49): Obviously say, Hey, I’m the founder and this is the janitor. You don’t even need to say who you are. It’s just, Hey, sorry. You ordered from X, Y, Z site. I’m just checking in. And like, most people are going to be like, what’s your position there? You know? No, one’s going to ask that question back at you. They’re just going to say, Oh, I, I appreciate like, cause not many times you submit it, our Amazon and somebody calls you back and they’re like, did you mean to order this? And they’re like, Oh wow. My phone’s just, no, one’s going to actually really be upset if someone calls, I’m just going to say, Oh, thanks for calling. Okay. Yes, I did order that. Thank you. And worst thing I say is I’m going to hurry and yes, that, that’s my confirm. Thanks. Bye. So worst case, just going to get someone going yes. And go on with their life, best case, you’re going to get a nice conversation out of us. James (34:27): Yeah. And you might, you’re going to get some nuggets about, Hmm. This is why my fans are spending this kind of money and I need to find more people like this. And so my sociological advice is which is also in the book. And I have some other examples in the book, too, lifestyle groups, recreational groups, and occupational groups, and the occupational one tends to slip past people because my wife used to be a bedside nurse. And that’s one of the most jacked in tightly organized groups. I mean, there’s a lot of tension in a nursing, in a nursing ward, but there it’s like the military. Yeah. I mean, I mean with COVID-19, it’s absolutely like the military. I mean, it’s like the war. So these there, for all the problems that had exist on a nursing ward between the nurses, the reality is they, they are a tightly knit group. They have a tightly-knit profession and they net we are highly networked, highly, highly networked. And if you want an example of a career, that’s not, that would be accounting. James (35:27): So have you ever been in a soft DA’s office? They all sit in their closed door, has never talked to each other cause they’re pathological introverts. And, and their job actually doesn’t require them to be co-present. They don’t actually do anything together. I mean, why does an accountant need another accountant in his office other than to be yelled at? Not much. So, I mean, the job is basically solitary, but if you, if you look at a certain subset of careers, like sales professionals, pharmaceutical sales reps, also hyper networked group, they have massive national conferences. I actually advised a client who had a hangover remedy that they needed to, they needed to invade one of these national sales conferences and do field marketing there because they would, they could create 10,000 customers in like one weekend. Yeah. Charles (36:18): I was talking to a founder the other day and Kate mentioned the business, but they were talking about how they grow and it’s all based on affiliates. And someone else on the call was kind of saying, you know, used F like basically talking about like what affiliates work in their business. And it’s just this certain types that the consumer, the affiliate is also the consumer. And it’s just like, why? Well, there’s other ones that, that not, like you said, accountants, like, if you say, I’m gonna give my accountant a coupon affiliate code and they’re like, well, what are you gonna do with this other ones? I don’t talk to anyone, but there’s other ones where the person with the affiliate code talks to more talks directly to more customers that will become more affiliates. That would also be buyers. And it just goes on this crazy flywheel. And if you could find that it’s numbers, James (37:04): My industry base, there’s a lot of these trade shows where they go and they’re there really to meet retail buyers. And they, you know, they buy an expensive booze and they try to meet retail buyers and hand out samples and stuff like that. But I’ve always laughed because I I’ve noticed obliquely as a social scientist, walking around. Those shows that there’s an enormous amount of sampling to high value consumers going on because it’s like, it could even be me. Like, I’m just, I’m not up retailers, but I’m walking by taking samples and I might become a customer and I have money. I probably thought through, I’m going to think, wonder if there’s 10,000 boosts in front of me, I’m going to think through which one I bother to have a sample from. Right. So I have plaintiffs. So those tree shows they’re actually accumulating new customers. James (37:45): They don’t even realize it. Yeah. And that’s why I was, I think I blogged once. Like, don’t be a jerk at your trade show booth because the guy talking to wants to talk to you as an a buyer. I mean, that is the dumbest. This could be someone who could hand you a hundred customers if you’re just nice, but there’s all these oblique moments. Like for instance, the big natural trade shows. I mean, one of the things they bring together is geeks who are into natural organic foods. So like it re single person there. It doesn’t matter whether they’re an ad agency or whatever. Everybody there is into that category. And they’re potentially high value convert to your brand. So you should look at everybody. There is a consumer, not just, Charles (38:27): Well, and you look at now, there’s influences that have larger. They have larger reach than some, some buyers. So the buyers get you the orders tomorrow, but the influence creating you. If they like it, they can just take in hammer down on it and really show it. They have a way larger audience and a buyer ever. Well, which is amazing. So you, and you don’t know who that, you know, find they don’t work for, you know, XYZ brand, but they have an Instagram with millions of followers. James (38:51): I think there’s also, I, I have a friend who’s running a business where they crap, he crowd sources, the fans to go harass the buyers. So basically it creates this gentle neutral portal where the place where fans can say, I want to see, I want to see this new brand at Wegmans or something. And suddenly the Wegmans buyers getting contacted, but in a friendly sort of third-party mediated manner. And I do that because I think influencing the buyer obliquely is a huge thing when you’re selling in retail. Cause they’re avalanche, they’re like book editors. I mean, they’re like book publishers, they’re, they’re avalanched with manuscripts. So you’re going to find some way to through Charles (39:36): Well, and you as a, you as a brand, right, you’re going to have, you can only hit them so many times, but if you could have a thousand people, each hit them, you know, that’s a force multiplier, right? So now all of a sudden it’s taking you all one brand James (39:48): Like a retailer buyer, physical retailer, they, they, they don’t lose anything by being miffed and aloof and quite frankly, condescending to a startup who’s, who’s pestering them. Right. They lose nuts cause you’re replaceable to them, but they can’t be that way to a 500 of their shoppers will look at Fox. So the shopper has this huge, like I’m a loyal Wegmans person, don’t you? You better listen to me. I mean, they did the good retailers do Charles (40:19): Well. If you’re a brand, you can’t go on social media and say, ah, they ignored me and they beat me off, put a random consumer can and they like, and then you have the consumer army kind of ganging up. So yeah, using them as kind of the, the lever, the backdoor to kind of leverage on though, that’s a clever one, right on, you know, you the best yet. You can’t do that James (40:37): Efficient way to do that. I are used through social networks. So if you think like a big city like San Diego, which has a lot of surfers, if you could, if you can leverage the surfing community to go like annoy the guys at Ralphs who controlled the San Diego stores for a, I mean they’ll probably react. Yeah. That’s a good one. No, I like that. That’s that’s good. Charles (41:01): Cool. I think this was super interesting. I yeah, I think the feed notes there, that’s that’s super helpful. I want to of probably a good place to leave it. If folks have I saw the book, we get that in the back half people watch it on video. What’s some stuff about the book or what can people find you? James (41:17): So the books on Amazon right now and I put it on sale when this airs, so it should be nine 99 paperback on amazon.com. It’s called ramping. Your brand would love for folks to check it out, pass it around. Charles (41:34): Awesome. I’ll link to that. And Amazon, and you’ll put a link to your social profile and yeah. People want to find you. I’ll definitely recommend that. Okay. Thanks. Sure. Awesome. Thanks a bunch.
46 minutes | Jan 27, 2021
How to Get Started Outsourcing Customer Support (E155)
https://www.youtube.com/embed/6JKRRdXpX9s Jim Coleman Co-Founder of xFusion Sponsors: Prisync Spark Shipping Links: https://www.xfusion.io/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-coleman/ https://www.linkedin.com/company/xfusion-support/ https://twitter.com/jim_coleman1 https://twitter.com/Groove_Jar Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the business. E-Commerce I talk with Jim Coleman about how to get started outsourcing customer support. This is the business of e-commerce episode, 155. Charles (00:18): Welcome to the Business of eCommerce. The show that helps e-commerce retailers to start, launch and grow their e-commerce business. I’m your host Charles Palleschi and I’m here today with Jim Coleman. Jim is a co-founder of X fusion where they provide outsourced customer support for e-commerce businesses. I asked him on the show today to talk about if you’re a founder and you’re thinking of hiring your first support person or outsourcing support, what are some of the do’s and don’ts and what are some things you should absolutely do to make your first support hire or outsource successful? You works with a lot of e-commerce retailers. So I think he brings some great advice to the table and has some great tips out. So let’s get into the show and if you have any questions, leave in the show notes and I can forward them over to Jim. So let’s get into this. So Hey Jim, how you doing today? Good, Charles, how are you? Good. Awesome. I have you on the show. I’m excited to dig into the topic of customer support and outsourcing. It’s very near and dear to my heart. So, so real quick, what do you, so you run an agency. Oh, so I was saying support essentially, right? Jim (01:31): We do. Yeah, it’s called X fusion.io. And we, we provide customer support customer success to founders. We started kind of scratching our own itch. My, my co-founder David and I are both business owners and we built out a team internally on, on each of our companies. And then wanted to bring that to the broader market so that we kicked off mid 2019. And it’s been growing since then. Charles (01:54): Okay. Yeah. So I feel like support is one of those things where everyone just want to, like the, it’s usually one of the first things you see, like you’re trying to word this correctly, the biggest time sink at the beginning, where you’re just spending a ton of back and forth. And a lot of founders want to kind of get it off their plate early, but I don’t think a lot know how or know the right way. Maybe they’re like running out of their inbox or just as no docs, just kind of doing everything out of their own head. What do you kind of see that? Do you folks usually come to you at the beginning when, Hey, you know, I’m a founder, I’m doing a hundred percent of support and I want to get this moving somewhere else. So [inaudible], Jim (02:35): Well, we have a really nice mix of both. So we have, we have solo founders that come to us and they’re just overwhelmed and swallowed up in support requests and other responsibilities. And then we also work with the existing teams to help them scale. I enjoy both, but I particularly enjoy working with, with founders because of the, the wins that we can help them achieve at the earlier level. And, and what I mean is just that we, we like to focus on helping founders get back to the highest and best use of their time. And I recognize that like everybody has to make the decision on like when is the right time to pull the trigger for them. And I recognize that, you know, we have to build up revenue before we have the, the, the bandwidth to be able to hire a team to handle support. Jim (03:12): But one thing I’d like to consider is like, if, if you’re at that place where you can afford to do so, and you don’t, then you’re spending a good chunk of time working on tasks that are not the highest and best use of your time. In other words, things that other people can effectively handle for you. And, and you’re not working on areas of the business that only you can handle. So what we’ve seen is that once once a founder will kind of take that jump and hire us to handle support, they really free up a lot of their time. And that allows them to move forward at a much faster pace than the other ways. So I just, I really enjoy talking to founders and, and, and just discussing their business with them and helping them get those early wins. Charles (03:48): What would you say if someone was kind of sitting there thinking about this because you have this obviously outsource, or do I hire someone a direct hire full-time if someone’s kind of way in that back and forth? Well, we do kind of tell them what they should, how they should be looking at that. Jim (04:02): Yeah. It’s interesting. Like w w we don’t compete with, or we’d like to think of ourselves as not competing with other outsource companies, but rather with the idea of hiring internal versus versus external. It, what I mean is like a lot of, a lot of outsource companies will provide a resource to answer tickets, for example, on a per response basis. So the idea is that one agent might be shared across, you know, five or seven clients, and they’ll sort of go into multiple different inboxes and it’s really hard to get high quality support. I’m just not a fan of that. It’s all of our agents are full-time dedicated. We really focus on the customer experience and we believe that if you deliver that next level of customer experience, that it will pay off in time and think like brands like Chick-fil-A, you know, there’s just something magical about what they do. Jim (04:44): Southwest airlines, Zappos. There’s a lot of these that they provide next level support in it. It creates the the culture in their brand and their brain’s reputation and really helps take them to the next level. So that’s the idea like we’re, we’re providing that level of service. So yeah, I mean, it just, it, it depends on, on, you know, the, the founder’s priorities and what they’re looking to do. There’s certainly pros and cons of each approach, but one of the pros, I guess, of, of outsourcing would be the, the built-in management as well. So we provide redundant agents to help cover the inbox. And then, you know, we also provide leadership and management over the inbox as well. So it really just depends on, on where the founders out and how much how involved they want to be in the process. Charles (05:28): Yeah. It’s nice to have the redundancy, right. Because even if it’s dedicated, that person is going to have like time off at some point, and I’ve done that before, back in the day, there was one support person here, and when they’re not here, you know, you have, the founder kind of has to step back into support and having a backup. That’s the biggest thing. When you go from one to two, then all of a sudden, like, all right, now there’s, but if you can’t do that, then yeah, it’s nice to have a backup when a founder is starting, how you, how do you get someone? Let’s say I’m doing it full time, right? Like I’m doing support myself as a founder. How do you get them to basically like, download their thought, process, their brain into something that someone else can pick up and run with? Like, what does that process look like? Jim (06:12): Really important. I think that if we broaden that out just a little bit wider and kind of look at a 30,000 foot perspective, I’m really a fan of, it’s kind of funny. It’s funny that this, this is related in my mind, but back in the day I was in law enforcement and I went through sort of the, the law enforcement pursuit driving course, and we’re blazing around the track. And they told me that smooth is fast and fastest smooth. And I I’ve, I’ve related that to the business world and saying that like, look, if, if we’re going too fast in our business where we don’t have time to document the process where we’re not building out process maps, and we’re sort of carefully documenting what we do and how we do it, then in my opinion, we’re moving too fast. It’s, it’s the idea of building a skyscraper on a sand sand foundation versus on concrete. Jim (06:52): So I really encourage founders to take the time to, to document the processes. So for example, if you answer a regular ticket or the same type of ticket on a regular basis, to just take a moment to document the process, to do that, and you’re basically creating training assets and also just like other processes in your business. One of the things we do is we provide back office support as well. So not just customer support, but back office tasks, things that are just kind of you know, fairly simple tasks that are, but they’re also time-consuming. So, and I also told the founders that we work with, like, you know, at first, this is going to be more painful than beneficial to you. And what I mean by that is you’re going to have to slow down your regular output and work with us to train the initial agent as to what, what you, what we want them to do, what their responsibilities are going to be, but then you’ll be able to accelerate after that person takes on other responsibilities you’ve got. And then from that point, we create training assets and also support assets. So internal and external support docs processes in the inbox, all of that. And then we handle the training of future agents as, as our, our clients scale. But yeah, I think it’s just important for the founder to take a moment and document those processes. And gosh, I’ve seen that payoff so many times, it’d be really beneficial as founders grow. Charles (08:04): This week’s episode is sponsored by Prisync. Prisync is a competitor price tracking and repricing tool that helps e-commerce companies make intelligent pricing decisions. Using the dashboard and daily Excel reports Online sellers can monitor price changes and immediately make pricing adjustments. Here’s some features that I love about Prisync. First is smart match. What smart match does is allows Prisync to search for our competitors and attach their prices right on your dashboard. So you can monitor their pricing changes against competitors. You already know about, they find competitors. You didn’t even know existed. Once you have that, you can configure your repricing rules. What this does is you can now set your prices to be based on the average price, the lowest price, the highest price of your competitors go up and down. And also you can say, don’t go lower than my cost by plus $5. Whatever you want to do, you can set these rules and pricing will automatically adjust your prices. Next is price change notifications. You can set rules to when prices change pricing will send you a notification alerting you of your competitors. Prisync changes last, but not least is a price history. You can then go in to the dashboard and look up all the pricing changes over time, the price, and because of monitoring that way, you know, just because it’s slower today, they might just be having a sale and it might come back tomorrow. You can see all your competitors on one charge. Super cool. I urge you to check it out. Thanks again for Prisync, for sponsoring this week’s episode. Now back to the show. Charles (09:44): Yeah. I think a lot of people get hung up thinking it has to be this like perfect thing from the beginning, right? Like it has to be this like golden document. That’s like a PDF and you can like send it to everyone. Charles (09:54): And what I’ve always tried to do, at least my approach here is like, if you’re getting the same question, even two or three times, just create like a KB article. It can be pretty basic. Like almost you basically just answer that person’s question, but now when a KB article and just send it to them, and then next time take that same KB article and just like add something or do something and just make it a little better. And at some point it becomes like, it becomes the document. It really is like the definitive guide to whatever. And you know, each time you send it to someone it’s going to get better and you’re going to refine it, but just be okay, be okay with the bad version. Like it’s, you know, like there’s no like police or they come after you like the doc, the PDF beliefs. It’s okay. I think that’s what people kind of get stuck on. Jim (10:35): Yeah. I’m glad you’re bringing that up because I think a healthy caveat to what I said was, or is that this idea that like analysis paralysis is not good. That’s not healthy, you know, doing these things at the absence or in the absence of taking action is not good. So it’s not a matter of having the perfect foundation. It’s a matter of just like documenting the steps and moving on. And then the idea is to save time in the future, not get bogged down in perfectionism. So that’s, that’s a really good point. I’m glad you brought that up. Yeah. Charles (11:00): Well, what else, what else do you kind of see people getting bogged down on, in their early stages other than just like analysis paralysis? Jim (11:07): Yeah, I, I think that that’s really important to consider, like from a 30,000 foot perspective, the type of customer support that you want to offer, like what you want your brand to be known for. We really prefer to work with clients that have an emphasis on providing amazing customer support. But not everybody does, but I think it’s important to decide like what, what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do that. Establishing expectations and KPIs. Like, Hey, we expect four chats to be answered within five minutes or less. We expect for emails to be answered within an hour or less. And then just looking at the higher level things of, of the type of experience that you want to deliver to your customers and the culture that you want to build out your company. So things like going above and beyond, we gotta remember when I was a teenager, I think it was like 18. Jim (11:47): I worked at home Depot and we used to get in trouble if we would point to it. Like if someone came up and said like, Hey know, we’re, we’re light switches. If we would point to where they are, it’s like, Oh, it’s 18. Like we would get in trouble for that. Like the expectation was that we would go above and beyond. We would walk them over there, even if it wasn’t our department. And we would show them you know, where the item is in a corollary now in, in the world of remote customer support is if a customer writes in and they ask you a question about X and you know that when they go down that path or they’re naturally going to have a question about, Y we’ll include that in your answer. If they ask you a question like, Hey, what would you recommend? Like, can, can your app do this? Or can, you know, do you guys sell this? If the answer is no, then make some suggestions. It’s the idea of going above and beyond to build that that brand culture in sort of yeah, just the, the culture of your brand and the way that you treat your customers, Charles (12:38): How do you train people to actually do that kind of above and beyond? Because I do love on home Depot when I asked, you know, where like these little tiny screws are and they’re like, Oh, let me come. Like, hold your hand and bring you down there. And like, I wonder if I’m on my own, like, but how do you, how do you actually train people to do that? Especially in a remote culture where you can’t see them pointing, like, you know, how do you get them to actually understand like lead the customer and go with them and help them without, Jim (13:01): Yeah, that’s a great question. The way we handle it is through vetting very early on. So we definitely provide training. We have an internal boot camp and I’ll, I’ll talk to that about that in a minute, but, but our focus is really from the beginning, we, we hire a 0.5% of the total number of people that apply. And we ask them a series of questions that are really designed to assess their interest in providing next level customer support. We want to find those people that naturally do that. So we have kind of like a little snippets built into questions that evaluate for that. So I really recommend when, when, when founders hire somebody, whether that’s outsourced or, or, you know, on their own team that they really evaluate that person’s personality and mindset from the very beginning in the way that they answer questions, both in written form. Jim (13:41): And then also excuse me, in, in interview, you know, during the interview process. And then after we, we hired them. So, like I said, it’s a very small percentage that we hire. We put them through an internal bootcamp where we go into really great detail. And by the way, like they they’ve already been hired with the expectation that they have excellent writing quality. We’ve already vetted all of that. And that they have a, an emphasis on empathy and really providing a high level of service to the customers they interact with. But from there, we provide a lot of training to them that really instills the idea of our brands. Like we are, we are, we deliver next level of customer support. Here are the ways that we do that. And we have discussions with that. So we have a full-time dedicated trainer that provides training to them and, and also writing coaching, et cetera. Jim (14:24): But it’s just, it’s setting the tone from the very beginning. And I find that like, in most cases, people really rise to those expectations. It’s just like, how is it that Chick-fil-A over and over provides this incredibly high level of service. And yet, like McDonald’s taco bell, some of these other ones just don’t like it has something to do with the culture and the expectations. And then we’re like, we’re like very much like the Netflix philosophy. We’re, we’re quick to let people go. If we have to, if they’re not meeting that it’s not without working with them and giving them a chance, but we just really focus on maintaining a culture of excellent customer experience and just been a real priority. Charles (15:02): What’s a quick example of a question you would ask to test for empathy. Like, you know, I’ve done a lot of interviews and testing for the hard skills, right? The technical skills. I got it. Like, can you do this? Like this, there’s a process of that, but testing for empathy, it’s definitely more of a, you know a soft skill. W what is, what is some questions you’d actually ask to find out, you know, like, are you a nice person? Like, how do you actually get that out of someone Jim (15:28): It’s theoretical scenario based questions? So for example, someone writes in and they are on a free trial of a Shopify app, and they ask for an extension, what do you do? Or like, we actually, we, we will give them, we will give them information. Like I own a small SAS business within the Shopify space. And I’ll literally say, okay, here, here’s the name of the business. Here’s what we do. Like, here’s basic foundational elements, and here’s the customer question. And I’ll literally like, quote you know, Hey, this is Bob. I’m really upset because of this, this, and this, and all evaluate how they, how they answer that. And then we have other questions, like I think one that we ask is you found out that your friend is, has been falsely accused and is in prison in a foreign country. What do you do? Jim (16:09): So like little things like that, it’s like, you know, yeah, it’s kind of goofy, but like, it’s amazing how, how we can vet people and just based on the way they answer that. And then also just getting a feel interviewing them, you know? And I just, I, I really think that that all of us, or certainly most of us have kind of a sixth sense about people and the way that they they connect on a call and the way they answer questions, et cetera. So it’s kind of a combination of all of those things. Charles (16:33): Yeah. It’s definitely, it’s a, it’s a tough position to hire for, right. Because yeah. You have to get on a call and you have to kind of really talk to someone like face to face. I know like the last support position we hired for here quite literally got hundreds of resumes and, you know, you bring those down to people. Okay. So let’s get a subset and now, okay, let’s get people on the phone and by the time you’re done with it, you’re like, I’ve just talked to a lot of people to find, you know, one hire. So Jim (16:59): Charles real quick, before we move on, I think it’s really important too, to consider that, like, if it has to start at the top, it has to start with the founder. If, if you, as a founder, don’t deeply, deeply believe in this. If you don’t deliver that level of support, you it’s like, I, I still answer, like we, we have a team of 20 20 staff, but for my, for my own small South, like I still provide all the customer support because I want to have an ear to the ground. Like I want to, to, to never forget what it’s like to provide that, that initial support. And that really helps me stay aligned. And it helps me continue that focus of, of excellent customer support. Like if it, like you can’t tell somebody to provide excellent customers for it, if you don’t believe in that yourself, or if you don’t provide that yourself. So I think a good first step is to deeply evaluate that and make sure that you’re really aligned with that. It’s not just something that you say, but it’s like really what you believe and you’re passionate about for your brand. Charles (17:52): Yeah. I’ve always thought of what that kind of just seeing when, when you see behind the scenes of founder, how they talked to the team internally about customers behind their back. If that makes sense. I’ve seen, like when you’re behind the scenes, you can tell the founders that kind of like, almost talk kind of like down about customers and users. And then you realize like, Oh, that’s how they, that’s how the team is talking to the public to the customers about that. But the founders internally, they’re like, I love my users. Like they like the biggest, like, they’re like the cheerleaders for the users. This, it just seems like it comes out in the support team. I don’t know, that’s at least what I’ve kind of, from my limited seeing inside enough companies, it’s almost how the founder talks about the users that influences how the support team will talk about the users. Jim (18:39): Yeah. It’s like, it’s the idea that the internal culture seeps out no matter what, and you can’t stop that. So I think that’s so critical. I mean, the way that we treat our team again starts there and like, we treat them like, they’re very valuable to us because they are. So in terms of like paying more, like providing better benefits and just autonomy, like I despise screen recording software. I hate it because like, I don’t want, like, I don’t want my screen to be monitored constant. I don’t want it to feel like I’m being monitored. Like we want to extend trust. It’s amazing how many people will rise to that level of trust. They really want to meet expectations. So the point is to like consider the internal culture of your company and make sure that’s locked on. And then the natural outflow of that is the way that the team is going to treat customers. Charles (19:27): Yeah. I like that. When you said you guys do an internal bootcamp, what does it, so someone kind of finally gets a job and then what are they actually kind of going? Like, how do you get someone trained up on someone else’s business? Like, what’s that look like? Jim (19:40): Yeah. Well th well, the internal bootcamp is an internal training before they’re ever client facing. So they go through several days of training. They’re working with a trainer, we have a lot of material as it relates to writing quality grammar, writing, structure, tone, empathy, like next level support, the way that we interact on our teams. So just healthy, remote communication. We work everybody’s remote and we, we, we use Slack. So just like all of our expectations in terms of the way we, we communicate all of that is handled initially in that bootcamp training. And then after that, they’re introduced to the client and that’s when the client training begins. So we ask our client to provide that initial training to their agent or agents as well as the team leader. So from the beginning, we have a, a backup with, with the team leader being trained concurrently. And then that process takes from sometimes as little as a few days to a week and sometimes multiple weeks, if it’s a really complicated technical product, but, but in the e-commerce commerce world, you know, one week on average and then we take it from there. Yeah. Charles (20:40): Yeah. It’s a nice part. It’s support for e-commerce. I feel like there’s a lot of level one, like where’s my, where’s my tracking number. Where’s my order. Or those kinds of does this fit, you know, that sort of thing. How do you guys handle when it actually is like a research question on I was just working with an automotive retailer, right? Where does this part fit in this Mustang or whatever. And people will call what those sort of are used to sell equipment for like kind of old machines and like, does this heat, our work, does this heating element work in this machine? And as a support person, you kind of have to go and like open PDFs and stuff, like looking around it’s do you guys do, do you guys train people to do all that? Is that like a knowledge database? Cause a lot, it would just be literally going to like a manufacturer’s website, digging in finding a part number. And it’s, it’s one of those things. It’s, there’s no like direct process. That’s more literally just Googling and doing a bunch of research. A lot of times Jim (21:33): It is our expectation that every member of our team goes above and beyond and provides a next level of customer support, including, you know, doing research and things like that. It’s also very important that they communicate really well. So for example, if an average ticket takes maybe five minutes to answer, depending on the client, if we have a team member that’s spending say 20 minutes or 30 minutes, and their output is lower because they’re really digging into a particular ticket. Like I mentioned, we don’t use screen recording software, but we instead ask them to prioritize really excellent communication. So we asked them to make an internal note say like on help scout or Intercom or whatever platform we’re using to say, Hey, you know, I spent about 20 minutes researching this ticket so I could provide an excellent answer to the, to the customer. And also it comes to like back to healthy expectations. Jim (22:14): Like when I have a conversation with a prospective client, I make sure that they know our focus on customer support. And I make sure it’s a good match. Not, not everybody is. And that’s okay. Like, like there are some people that, that really want to provide some sort of like super fast answers. They don’t want to go above and beyond. They want to run their business that way. And that’s fine, but we have a conversation up front to say like, Hey, this, this is our brand. This is the level of support we provide. And just to make sure it’s a good fit I guess like to play devil’s advocate, there’s there’s times when that can be too much or it becomes you know, unreasonable. So, you know, there’s, there’s a point where we need to have a conversation with the client and say like, Hey, like, this is how much time we’re finding that the, that the agent is spending, providing this level of support. Like, how’s that working for you? Are you, you know, are you good with that or whatever? There’s always a line. Right. And, and it’s rare, but you know, sometimes customers can kind of push that. So you know, to be reasonable as well. Charles (23:06): Yeah. I think there’s a, there’s a a match between the agent and what the business requires for that type of ticket. Right. I’ve done e-commerce support before where you should have, you should basically betaine between when you touch the ticket and when you close the ticket, it should be in the minutes, like, you know, sub five, right. But then what sparks shipping this, some tickets where I’d expect easily, someone could spend over an hour and particular tech cash totally normal. They might we talk about screen recording. You would have material apart from like a time tracker. Sometimes we do screen recordings, just literally someone support agents recording their screen to send to user, Oh, I’m a huge Jim (23:46): Fan of that. I love that. Yeah. Like send a little video. Totally. Oh man. That people are blown away by that. It’s funny because again, I use this all the time at at my small software business when I provide support. But like people like, so I, it would take me maybe 10 or 15 minutes to write out a fairly lengthy reply with screenshots, or I can make it two minute video and just show them what to do and even better yet do it for them if that’s appropriate and send them the video, people are just blown off their chairs. They’re going, they cannot believe that live. It’s funny because like, I just saved myself, you know, 10 or 12 minutes, like, but they’re just amazed by that. And it creates this like sort of a personal connection as well, because we’re so removed. Like this, the thing about that we have to fight against with remote communication is that, that distance between people, you know, but so I, when I record a loom video, I like to have my face in the bottom left corner or whatever. So I’m just making a connection with the customer and they know I’m a human and they know I’m specifically talking to them. They can see my screen I’m on their website or whatever. And it’s just very connective and really builds, builds brand loyalty, which is a great bonus. Charles (24:51): Yeah. I feel like that, like you said, they, you know, they’re talking to you, right? Like we’re a support issue the other day with eBay. And somebody had to reach out to them and contact them and you’ve read the response. And you’re like, is this, even to me, like, this could be literally to anyone. Like, I don’t even know, like you write this like one page on email and you get back, there’s like two lines. And like, they could have just copied them. This most likely is copy and pasted versus with alum. Like you said, if it’s appropriate that, like in your account, they’re basically doing the setup for you and there’s no confusion and then you can go back, replay it. And yeah, we, I love doing that. Any other kind of things like that, that you’ve kind of found work very, very good to like personalize. Jim (25:30): Yeah, exactly. And that’s what I wanted to speak to a little bit more, I think saved replies as a template or a great idea and necessary because the truth is like most businesses have redundant questions, but, but there’s, there’s no reason that the, the agent or the, or the founder, if they’re answering support tickets themselves, can’t personalize that, you know, so you can start with a snippet, you have the, the basic information that they need, but, you know, add some personalization, you know, the things that are even obviously personalized, like, Hey, happy Friday, you know, or good afternoon, like things like that. And then also restating their questions. So yeah, you’re going to provide a template to answer, but restating the question. So, so they know they, they were listened to, right. Like, I mean, we all desire to be listened to, and, and you can prove that you’ve listened to their, their, their question, but just sort of recapping that in a, in a quick sentence. Jim (26:18): Another thing that I ask our team to be really careful of is to make sure that, that they’re catching all of this sentence or all of the the questions within the customer query. So attention to detail. So as you know, customer right. Might write in and they have a question initially, and then a lot more information. And then there’s another little question buried at the end. So being really careful to, to, to grab those and make sure that you know, that they’re just paying really close attention and listening well to the customer. Yeah. That’s of those things. When you read Charles (26:44): Some users, when they send a support ticket, it’s like a two line support message where like, all right, two lines statement, question, got it. Let’s do this other times, you get this like wall of text and there’s like question, and you can see this like question marks peppered inside. And you’re like, all right, this is gonna, this is gonna, this is gonna take some time just to like untangle and like, all right, let’s read, pick out the questions, respond to each one. Cause people then will go, Oh, did you not respond to all my questions? You’re like, I don’t know what are six of them like that I missed. One was in a question. And like, so you need to really on some of them spend your time. And like this time of just like breaking it apart. Just so you can actually get in line. Charles (27:22): And I think what people, what people will miss and it helps to keep in mind is you spend all this time and effort and money acquiring customers, right? You spend ad dollars, you’re spending marketing dollars, all this stuff. And then to lose someone to drop the ball, it’s like, literally like you’re right there. You’re, you’re, you know, you’re almost in the end zone and you just dropped the ball on something that could have just been a nice experience. And that’s kinda, I feel like people need to frame support like that, that it’s, you’ve spent all this money and resource and time already. And now you’re just like, this is a finish line and you just need to, like, you just need to do a good job here. Jim (28:03): Yeah. I think all of us at different times as founders are guilty of overemphasizing sales and marketing at the expense of, you know, what would it be? Customer loyalty, longevity, reducing churn. I mean, it just hit you, right? I mean, it’s, it’s crazy to spend and I’m not throwing stones. I’ve totally been there, but like they spent so much money and effort acquiring a new customer only to lose them through, through an interaction that that could have been better, you know, or lack of checking in with them or whatever. I mean, it’s like just, just painful. In to that, in another thing that comes to mind, I think is really important is to, to like, whether you hire internally as a founder or you hire externally a support company to, to give your, your team permission to, to make decisions on behalf of the customer to extend trust to them, to, for example, refund requests, like what are the parameters that they can provide excellent service. Jim (28:54): Like they don’t have to come back to you. And also like it’s interruptive for them to go back to the founder, but also it provides a poor you know, poor, poor, poor level of support to sort of like, let me get back to you on this refund. So to extend trust and permissions to the agents, to be able to give refunds up to a certain dollar amount or effectively do whatever within reason it takes to please a client. I I’ve heard of famous brands like Ritz-Carlton that allow their staff. I don’t remember the dollar amount, but some obscene dollar amount that the staff can do. Whatever they think is necessary to provide the next level of customer support to their customers. So things like that, where you empower the team to, to be able to provide that, and they feel like they have a sense of autonomy and authority to provide that level of support. Charles (29:38): What do you say? Because I’ve seen a lot of founders get hung up on one where like refunds, something like that, where you just think the support agents are gonna like run a muck and give everyone a refund. And I see people get like really hung up on, like, it never happens, but like, I see people really get worried about this. What do you kind of tell people to, you know, like that’s, and I know it’s not realistic, but only from, you know, I’ve done it, but like before you’ve done it, how do you tell people, like, that’s not going to happen? Like, trust me, it just never happens. Jim (30:07): Yeah. That’s what I think is I think it’s good to, to have a conversation early on and just set really clear expectations. So it will be my job to talk to the founder to say, okay, you know, Joe, what, like, what are your things, what are you thinking in terms of like maximum dollar amount that we can extend permission to the team to refund. And just also having a bit of a philosophical conversation on you know, like, like, like scarcity mindset versus an abundance mindset. So like, not like I don’t want to go in and sort of like, act like I know everything about their business and kind of take over, but I think it’s fun and interesting to have a philosophical conversation and just sit and, you know, talk about things like that. It’s like, well, what do you generally feel about refunds? Jim (30:44): You know, because in my experience I’ve found that like, if we’re quick with refunds, even if we get taken advantage of on occasion and that sometimes happens, it’s better in the long run to have that more abundant mindset. And it’s better for the brand. Like I, you know, in the e-commerce world, like I’ll do almost anything to avoid a negative review within reason. But, but my point is I will even let people take advantage of me to a point to avoid that, that you know, negative impression on the business, it’s just not worth the damage to be. Right. You know, even when I know they’re, they’re taking advantage or that they’re in the wrong, it’s not worth it to win, you know, for me to be right at the expense of the business. So it’s thinking about things like that. But, but my point is, it’s just, it’s fun to have conversations with founders that are along those lines and just kind of see how they’re thinking about, about things like that. Charles (31:29): Yeah. That’s interesting to frame it like that with the abundance mindset on just like, and just understanding 99 point, whatever percent of these orders are just going through everything. It’s just like fine. It’s the, support’s really dealing with that. Like a 1%, like they’ve already, something has gone something where it has already happened. So now how you like solving that in like just what the other 99% do their thing. They probably went flawless, they got their tracking number. They got that product. They’re happy, but there’s a 1% like, how do we deal with that? And if, if we have to give refunds on some percentage of that, so be it right. It’s yeah. It’s part of it. And I think a lot of people going into it don’t realize this is just, this is part of it. You’re gonna have to there’s some percentage of revenue. I don’t know what that number looks like on average, but there’s some percentage of revenue that’s just assumed to be refunds. And I think once you just kind of get okay with that, it’s fine. Jim (32:20): Yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of a silly example, but I go back to Chick-fil-A again, I think like they’re an example of a company that has a really abundant mindset and you can use examples Southwest to be like, Chick-fil-A, I mean, they’ll give you a ton of sauces, like for no extra money. And then like, I’ve been through drive-throughs at other fast food places and they’re like, Oh, can I get some barbecue with my fries? Oh yeah, that’ll be 50 cents. Like, things like that. It’s like, you know, like I just, I really appreciate the brand more when there’s a level of abundance Southwest airlines with, with the free bags, you know, like little things like that. I just, I just, I don’t know. I think reciprocity comes in there. Like, I think that builds brand loyalty when, you know, a brand is willing to go above and beyond. It just has a an abundant mindset in general to just really build customer loyalty. Charles (33:02): And it probably depends on the type, the type of company you’re trying to build. Right. last week we were talking about just, there’s some folks that play in that like very low end, like a competing of a price. And that is a, that’s a way to do it. Right. That’s a business model. Amazon, Walmart, they’re not small companies. Right. so they’ve done. Okay. But like, as it’s almost as a smaller retailer, you can’t compete there. So you have to compete on these other ways of doing business like that brand loyalty going above and beyond because you can’t compete with Walmart. So like you’re not going to beat them at that game. And that’s different. They don’t need to, they don’t like Walmart doesn’t give great support. They don’t need to, they give the lowest prices, you know, when you’re going in, that’s what you got a gash and you can’t compete with their prices. Yeah. So, yeah, and it’s a match, but as a small retailer, you know, you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna compete with Walmart. You’re not compete with Amazon. So you need to compete on some other playing field. And this is an option when you talk about customer success. I think we talked about, we touched upon that earlier briefly. What’s the difference. And I always see people kind of use these terms interchangeably. How would you define one versus the other? Jim (34:10): Yeah, I really think they’re quite different. The way I look at it is customer support is almost completely reactive. So answering support tickets chats phone calls, et cetera, where customer success by design should be almost completely proactive. So that’s concierge level onboarding for a SAS product. So maybe a SAS product that supports e-commerce retailers. I used to work for one in customer success and we provided email automation. So we would do concierge level onboarding where a new client would sign up. We would walk them through the product, set it up for them. It’s also proactive outreach. So you know, relationship building. So in the e-commerce world, this may be people that, that byproducts on a recurring basis basis and sort of a larger scale. So to maintaining and growing relationships with, with people like that, it’s also looking out for churn. So the case of a SAS product that maybe supports e-commerce retailers you know, evaluating the customers that may be likely to churn based on certain metrics. So like, Hey, you know, they haven’t sent out an email in this many days et cetera. So it’s being just really, really proactive and deeply supporting the customer through, through a meaningful, personal relationship Charles (35:17): With e-commerce or are you actually a folks proactively reaching out like a high dollar, high dollar high order value order comes in? People like reaching out to them and saying like, Hey, you’ve spent X amount. Like, should we just talk about these are people who is at that level of customer success. Jim (35:35): Yep, totally. And I get like, this is not something, whether we’re talking about SAS or, or e-commerce not every SAS business and not every e-commerce company can afford customer success. It’s really the higher end products that generally can. So in the SAS world, you know, customers are paying 500 to $2,000 a month in the e-commerce world. I mean, I remember one of the customers we used to support at the, the email company I worked, I worked out was a company that sold like computer racks. So I mean, their, their clients would, would spend thousands of dollars and very much at the kind of enterprise type level or at least medium business enterprise type level. So in situations like that, like definitely there’s room to reach out to, to those, those folks and cultivate relationships get to understand them better, understand their needs. Jim (36:17): Like w when would they be likely to need to make a recurring per purchase? Like, what are, what are their goals you know, are they just trying out the, the computer racks in hopes to buy him for all, you know, 50 locations or whatever, like, just to understand the way they’re thinking and kind of you know, what their plans are, but I would argue that you can, you can automate some of that even for e-commerce businesses that have maybe a little bit more affordable product and send out a sort of automated emails, getting to know them, asking, you know, what their intent is, et cetera. Especially if it’s, you know, maybe on the wholesale side or something, that’s a little higher ticket price. Charles (36:50): Yeah. I was talking to a user hair and they sell it equipment to schools. So like average order values and thousands of dollars sort of thing. And there’s orders that are tens of thousands. So they call every order. They make it someone in there who’s making a phone call, Hey, let’s just review this order. Let’s talk about it. And someone’s going to site submitting a very large order and they just practically call them back every time and just talk through us. And some of is just like, right, the shipping it’s going to come on a loading dock, you have a, like a a floor Jack, like some of these, you know, at the higher dollar value. There’s some just real questions you have to ask on. Okay. Do you have a lift? Like, what’s that look like? Do we need a the ramp on the back of the truck? Like, versus like you said, some lower, you know, if you’re selling t-shirts or something, you’re probably not calling every user. It just doesn’t make sense. So I feel like success can fit into certain businesses, but not others. In that case, you mentioned, you mentioned automation where do you see that kind of fitting into support? Like, how do you, how do you pepper in just enough automation without being over automated and still have the human factor? Jim (37:56): Yeah, I mean, it depends on if you’re talking about, when you say automation, the first thing I think of two things like chatbots, and then the second would be inbox automation like help saved replies internal docs, external docs, et cetera. But I’m, it’s probably not a surprise. I’m not a fan of chat bots. And I, I recognize that in certain situations they may make sense, but I just, I love people and I love connecting. I love that human experience. And I just feel icky when I get to a chat bot. Like I, I do everything I can to sort of like trick the system to give me a real person to talk to you. Charles (38:30): You can use his hand if you ever read through the raw logs users. Like, yeah, everyone’s trying to just like figure out how to get around the chat bot as quick as possible. Jim (38:40): I, I am not a fan now that said, I recognize that in certain use cases, it may make sense. But what I am a fan of is, is automation in the inbox that, that makes support more efficient, not at the expense, like we talked about earlier, earlier of personalization, but, but there are ways that you can blend the two to provide a better level of service. For example, like chat responses. Those can be, you know, you can put in a sort of automated response and customize or personalize the bookends of the response and deliver something that’s, that’s really high quality. I just, I don’t, I don’t like automation where it’s obvious to the customer, that things are being automated. And I think it can lead to, to lazy work sometimes, you know, it can lead to an over-reliance on these automations. You’ve had that feeling with like, you’re talking to a human in a sort of a chat sequence or email sequence. Jim (39:29): And you know, that, that the answer they paste it in is totally just paste it in. And what I mean by that is like, it’s like, okay, the first paragraph was relevant, but the last two are really not. So that’s another thing is like, you can paste in an automated reply and the sort of edit out the irrelevant parts. And I was chatting in with, with Xfinity internet the other day. And it was like, it was very much that it’s like, ah, I know what you’re doing there. I was like, I don’t really like that so much. It just felt a little spammy, you know? Charles (39:54): Yeah. I’ve even used on automated replies sometimes just having a, like, here’s like the whole automated template and here’s different options inside of there and it’s made, so you want to go in and have to delete, you know, three out of the four of these and you pick the one you want. So it’s basically just like, Hey, they’re X. And then you fill that in, you know, best regards and may, and then there’s different things you could have in there. Hey, has the link to our pricing. Here’s a link to a demo, has linked to, you know, five different things. And then you’ll say, okay, let me remove the ones that don’t make any sense. And, you know, like I can, I can never send this as a it’s like I have to, I have to rework this. So it sets a certain expectation that like, I can still use it and get some value out of it and a more more editing than having to type. So it still gives you the best of both worlds. Yeah. Jim (40:40): You know, that reminds me Charles of another really important attribute you know a really good customer support agent or customer success. And that is high trait conscientiousness someone that, that really pays attention to detail. And we screen for that is like one example. You asked about example questions earlier. We’ll say something like in, in less than 75 words, tell us about a hobby of yours and why you enjoy it. So the point of the question, like, yeah, of course we want to get to know them a little bit better, but the, the main point of the question is to see if they follow directions and you’d be surprised at how many people will, we’ll go over that that limit it’s like, well, they clearly didn’t follow directions. So what, what a few of those built in, and if, if they miss so many points in that process, we just, we don’t further them in the application process because in my mind, if they’re missing that at that level, and you would imagine that when people are applying for a job, they should be paying really close attention and that sort of that process. Jim (41:30): So if they miss those things there, then I can, that they’re likely you know, likely to miss them in a, in a support interaction and not everybody is, is, you know, pays real close attention to detail as it was really conscientious. So I think it’s important to find those people for, for just that point. So they can craft responses that are, are quite detailed and you can expect them not to miss questions within a customer response, et cetera. Charles (41:53): Yeah. That’s one of the things I’ve noticed with the hiring you that, yeah, there’s a trick of just like, Hey, could you do me a favor and follow up, follow up with me tonight about this and send me, send me a a meeting request for next week. You pick the time, anytime I’m available, just send me a meeting request for next week by tonight. If the person can’t do that and you give them, you know, give them eight hours or whatever, give them a reasonable amount of time to do something. And if they can’t do that thing, you know, like where you’re not paying, like, did you not care? Like what happened here? And if there’s no, you know, Oh, I got really sick. My kid got sick, that’s fine. I get it. Things happen. But if someone can’t follow that, like a simple thing, like you said, some detailed set of instructions is just gonna get off the rails. Jim (42:35): Yeah. That’s a good point. And we try, I mean, w w you know, we try to recognize that, Hey, like none of us are perfect. We’re going to make mistakes. I mean, we, you know, we build in, build it into our system where we expect a certain sort of score when they go through that process. We’re not looking for perfection, but you can just get a read on people if they’re missing several questions like that and missing the details. It’s pretty you know, you can definitely expect that they’re going to be doing that when they actually get on the job Charles (42:59): Before I let you go. You mentioned the one last thing, and I see people get chew into this, or not enough, usually people fall one or the other, but you mentioned having some sort of like metrics and like KPIs and those sorts of things, what do you, what do you stand on that? And how do you balance going, like, you know, KPI crazy and like, Oh, we’re gonna, we’re gonna measure our, like the, how many minutes you’ve been in particulate to then there’s other folks that are just like, you know, KPIs, whatever. Like they just don’t measure anything. What do you kind of fall in Nash? Yeah. Jim (43:27): I, I’m not a fan of setting finite KPI expectations across the board like saying, Oh, it’s exactly this number of minutes. And then like, I can give you like a rough average, but it’s very client specific. So I think it’s important for, for each founder to really consider, you know, what is the level of service that they’re wanting to deliver? What is the cost of their product? How technically complexity is it, what what’s reasonable, I mean, should a chat, you know, take this long to, to to finish it should an email take as long to finish, et cetera. And, and then I’m a big fan of just really, really healthy communication. And I don’t, I don’t like setting like an overwhelming number of KPIs. I really liked the idea of boiling down the most important few and setting those expectations with the team and then also expecting them to communicate really, really well. And we’re a huge fan of using the notes section in like help scout, inner, calm, et cetera. So we get, so the agent can document like, Hey, this was a little bit of an edge case situation. Here’s what I did, et cetera. So the founder can see that, but I think that’s, it’s important to have KPIs, but not an overwhelming number where they just sorta like you know, everything’s a priority, then nothing’s a priority. It’s that sentiment. So I think it’s, it’s important to boil that down into just the most important view. Charles (44:34): Yeah. And a, any number you’d give someone, right. They’re going to push hard on that number and then kind of ignore the other numbers. And if you give them too many numbers, then they’re going to pick one and it might not be the one you’re looking for. So having, yeah, like you said, being very particular about which ones because those are the ones we’re going, gonna focus on. And if you give them too many, like you said, there’s no focus, so cool. I think that’s good place right there. Yeah. Thanks. That’s, that’s very helpful. People want to kind of check you out, check out what you’re working on. What can they do that where’s the best place? Jim (45:05): Yeah, probably the, probably the best place would be on our website. It’s X fusion.io. So it’s X, F U S I O n.io. My email is Jim. At that domain, you can find me on, on LinkedIn would be a good place. David and I met my co-founder. We, we love to talk to founders. We’d love to talk shop, and neither of us are salespeople. We don’t have a sales background. We love just connecting and, and you know, talking about founders businesses and getting to know them. So we’d love to have any, any conversations with any of your listeners and just talk shop. Charles (45:33): Awesome. I’ll drop a link to it in the show notes and yeah, definitely folks should reach out. So thanks a lot for coming on. Jim knows. Appreciate it. Jim (45:41): Yeah. Thanks Charles. Really appreciate you having me.
39 minutes | Jan 19, 2021
How Independent eCommerce retailers can Compete Against the Giants (E154)
https://www.youtube.com/embed/UbnQrRDTuZQ Jeremy Bodenhamer Co-founder & CEO of ShipHawk Show Notes: 5 API of the Apocalypse Amazon Walmart Alibaba JD Shopify The Power of Habit Grove Collaborative Parker Clay – Leather Products All Birds Boneless Knee Pads Sponsors: Prisync Spark Shipping Links: Jeremy Bodenhamer Ship Hawk Adapt or Die: Your Survival Guide to Modern Warehouse Automation Jeremy Bodenhamer LinkedIn Jeremy Bodenhamer Twitter Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the Business of eCommerce I talk with Jeremy Bodenhamer, about about how independent retailers can compete with the giants. This is the business of eCommerce episode 154. Charles (00:20): Welcome to the Business of eCommerce. The show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow their e-commerce business. I’m your host Charles Palleschi. And I’m here today with Jeremy Bodenhamer. Jeremy is the co-founder and CEO of Ship Hawk, and also the bestselling author of adapt or die, a leading expert at the intersection of shipping. And e-commerce I asked Jeremy on the show today, talk about how in 2021, an independent retailer can compete with some of the largest e-commerce companies out there like Walmart, Amazon, and how you can not just compete, but also win. Jeremy has a lot of insights on both the logistics side, but also how you can attract more customers by talking about your brand. And I think it’s super interesting. So let’s get into the show and I think you’re going to enjoy this. Hey Jeremy, how are you doing today? Doing well. Charles (01:09): How are you doing Charles? Doing good. Awesome. To have you on the show. I love the topic and want to kind of get into us. I’ve been seeing, kind of been following the the Shopify guys for a while, and I love the whole concept of, you know, arming the rebels, right? Where, how can you know, how can the smaller retailers compete against some of the big guys? And it’s something where I think the world is going to very different ways, right? Where you have these like marketplaces kind of Amazon, like the big ones everyone knows about, but then you have these new brands that are kind of just popping up and becoming almost household names. In some cases you see this with, you know, some of like the big companies, like some of the, some of these, there’s just so many retailers now that all of a sudden you, they can just build a brand name. So you’re are okay. So you’ve been around with ship for, you said about seven, eight years now, you guys started that for about eight years. Okay. And you recently came out with a book on also basically competing with the giants, right? Adapt to die. Jeremy (02:11): Yeah. Adapter die came out a few weeks ago and is a survival guide for the independent merchants and how to compete against the giants. Charles (02:21): I love the cover also with the, the dinosaur on there. Very cool. Yeah. It’s sorta my voice. Speaker 2 (02:30): So Charles (02:30): If you’re talking to a small retailer, if someone’s starting, you know, 20, 21, right. And they’re, I want to get into e-commerce, you know, I have some products, but they’re looking at all the expectations of what you need to do nowadays. How would you start kind of guiding someone to say, okay, you have to compete. You want to come up with a product X also sold on Amazon and tons of other marketplaces. How would you start kind of guiding someone through that process of competing? Jeremy (02:57): Yeah, good question. I would start by challenging them to understand the state of the current marketplace. The fact that these marketplaces by and larger, not friends but competitors. In the book, I talk about the five APIs of the apocalypse. Those five API APIs are Amazon Walmart Alibaba, jd.com and Shopify. And I predict a, a future that I think is a very real scenario where those five companies own global commerce, every transaction, every dollar spent, and they own the entire supply chain. And they’re closed supply chains, meaning they’re not open to anyone. They’re only open to those that are living within that marketplace. And they are competing against one another the same time. I’m a guy that believes that small businesses and mid-size companies feed families and build communities. And so we need to empower those small businesses. And so if those guys don’t understand who they’re really competing against, it’s not the other small business down the street, it’s Amazon, who’s spending, you know, $200 million on each new warehouse. They open up. So from there, I would take them down and help them understand that Amazon Walmart, all these guys may be setting the buyer expectation, but a small guy still have to meet those same standards. Right. The buyers still want stuff delivered fast and easy. They want low friction checkout. And so those are the things we have to deliver upon from a warehouse automation perspective. Charles (04:37): Yeah. I think a lot of people underestimate when they sell it in a competition, they, they know their competition, right? Like, you know, as a retailer, I’m selling X there’s, these other three people, you probably know the names of the founders. Like you, you know, kind of the players, but there’s always the, it’s the users of the buyers that never even got to your site, never even really considered you. That just went to Amazon and said, Oh, one-click buy. Like I know as a software company. Yeah. We can, you know, our biggest competitor is Microsoft Excel, right? Like it’s like, it’s almost every business software, company’s largest competitor because it’s the people that are using Excel and they never even started to bother to look and sign up kind of the same thing with Amazon. It’s the folks that never even got to the retailer site, right. That they just want an Amazon and they don’t even know this five competitors. They just know this Amazon. So how do you even get in front of them in that case? Jeremy (05:28): Yeah. I, I break out Amazon’s competitive advantage into two components. One is the eyeballs, right? That’s the, the marketplace, the fact that customers are skipping Google, they’re going straight to Amazon, Amazon stocks, you know, last I checked over 120 million products, right. You think, Oh, I can find everything on there. And the other one is the distribution. Amazon has the smart warehouses and their own network of carriers. They own the planes, the trucks, the warehouses, like the entire supply chain. So I do think we have to break it up into two components. I spend the majority of the book talking about the distribution component because that’s really my specialty. But I do spend a little time talking about the eyeballs component. The data war that’s going on behind the scene scenes. Oh, I don’t know if you’ve noticed if you if you buy things on Amazon, but a few months ago, all of the order details disappeared from the confirmation emails. Jeremy (06:24): So when you went online and you bought a book before, you know, or five books and they’re different books and your, your order confirmation will tell you which books you bought, what the quantity was. Now, they don’t say any of that. And one of the reasons that that that’s happening is because Google is a competitor of Amazon. Google has invested in companies, you know, like JD with Walmart and, and there’s this supposedly you know, anti Walmart Alliance with Google and target and other retailers where all these guys are trying to compete. And so there’s a whole data war played out. And the data that’s important is I need to be able to put the right product in front of the right buyer when they’re ready to buy. Right. There’s an old Charles Duhigg story. Charles Duhigg wrote to the power of habit and stronger, faster, better. Jeremy (07:11): He tells this story that he wrote a long time ago about how target knew a young girl was pregnant before her, her own parents knew because of what she was buying at the store and the data and that’s imperative. And that’s the, one of the tools that the big, the big giants are using that small guys don’t necessarily have access to, but the small guys have things that the big guys don’t have. The biggest one I talked about in the book is authenticity. One of the stories I tell in the book is about a company called Grove collaborative and grow cells. Eco-Friendly healthy, natural products for cleaning, for self care kids you know, pets, all that type of stuff. Thinking about like cleaners, toilet paper, I mean, it’s literally a direct head-to-head competitor of Amazon selling in many cases, commoditized products, and they are killing it. Jeremy (08:07): Their last valuation of their last fundraise fundraise was over a billion dollars. They’re growing like crazy. And they’re doing this in spite of Amazon’s best efforts and they’re doing it by being authentic with their customers, authentic with the products they sell. And they’re telling their story, which is very important small and mid-sized companies. We can’t get away with kind of hiding in the shadows anymore. We gotta be out there telling our story, telling customers why they should be buying from us so that they choose to come buy from us. And then once they arrive, we have to give them that frictionless process to purchase. And that fast delivery, Speaker 2 (08:43): This week’s episode is sponsored by Prisync. Prisync is a competitor price tracking and repricing tool that helps e-commerce companies make intelligent pricing decisions. Using the dashboard and daily Excel reports Charles (08:56): Online sellers can monitor price changes and immediately make pricing adjustments. Here’s some features that I love about Prisync. First is smart match. What smart match does is allows Prisync to search for our competitors and attach their prices right on your dashboard. So you can monitor their pricing changes against competitors. You already know about, they find competitors. You didn’t even know existed. Once you have that, you can configure your repricing rules. What this does is you can now set your prices to be based on the average price, the lowest price, the highest price of your competitors go up and down. And also you can say, don’t go lower than my cost by plus $5. Whatever you want to do, you can set these rules and pricing will automatically adjust your prices. Next is price change notifications. You can set rules to when prices change pricing will send you a notification alerting you of your competitors. Prisync changes last, but not least is a price history. You can then go in to the dashboard and look up all the pricing changes over time, the price, and because of monitoring that way, you know, just because it’s slower today, they might just be having a sale and it might come back tomorrow. You can see all your competitors on one charge. Super cool. I urge you to check it out. Thanks again for Prisync, for sponsoring this week’s episode. Now back to the show. Charles (10:24): Yeah. I think people underestimate that, telling that story. It’s a very organic process, right? Like, and that everyone’s kinda like shortcut that on. They want, they just want to get people to the site, but what’s really gonna happen is if you tell that story authentic, that’s going to make sales, but also generate fans. And those fans will be the ones that start kind of the flywheel spinning. And that will be the buildup, but that takes awhile. So yeah, you get that going. Jeremy (10:49): It works so well. There’s another company I, a case study in the book called Parker, clay and Parker, clay makes leather products, mostly handbags bags for men and women in Ethiopia and the founders were missionaries over in Ethiopia and saw this aid model and how it was working and thought they could start a business and provide more value and more help to the people over there. And so they started making these bags and selling them in the U S and they employ almost exclusively. Women, a woman who are in vulnerable situations who can’t necessarily feed themselves, or their kids have no way to make money. And now they have a factory. They employ over 200 women over there. And if you look at not only their success from a sales perspective in the U S but if you look at some of their metrics, like repeat purchase rates, their repeat purchase rates are twice the industry average. Jeremy (11:51): I can go to Amazon and find the bag knocked off by five different vendors. Right? Most of them coming from China or I can go to Parker, clay, I can spend more for the same bag. It’s higher quality. It comes with a lifetime guarantee and I’m doing good with the money I’m spending, right. I’m actually helping these women. And it’s the, the company is going gangbusters. So yeah, telling that story being authentic, and that is the way to get the, to get the word out while these, you know, these giants are playing data Wars that we’ll never have enough money to put to play. Charles (12:25): Yeah. That’s the thing. You’ll never beat them at that game. Right. Like you’ll never, Amazon knows every product, they know different products too. Like you were saying, like the pregnancy, like products that are in such different categories versus you as a retailer, you just know, okay, handbag, someone’s coming here for this. You don’t know what sort of, you know, like products they bought at the like groceries they boss, but, you know, they handbags. So, you know, at least that selection. So how do you start competing? And, you know, getting that word out though, like, how do you, when you say that be authentic, like, how do you show that to a buyer? Jeremy (12:58): Yeah. So I, and I think it depends on the brand. Obviously the Grove collaborative was doing it by emphasizing the natural and healthy elements in their products, right? They weren’t toxic in their cleaners Parker, Clay’s doing it through having a cause that matters and, and helping these vulnerable women. Another good example I can give you is Allbirds Allbirds makes the, will run our tennis shoes that are pretty famous now. And they did it through using wool because it’s a, an environmentally friendly product. And it’s funny, one of the hopeful, one of the ways they got the word out and they were already pretty big when they did this, but it’s, it’s the tactic I thought was fantastic. They were getting enough traction and we know that customers go straight to Amazon now, right? They’re not just going to Google. Jeremy (13:47): And so they’re going to Amazon and they’re searching Allbirds. Well, Allbirds refuses to sell to Amazon, just like Birkenstock. And I tell the story of Birkenstock in the book also because Amazon was going and buying Birkenstocks behind the scenes in order to have them. But that’s not what Amazon did with Allbirds. They did. They, they came up with knockoffs on Allbirds and radically undercut the price. And the founders of Allbirds wrote a letter to Bezos and said, Hey, we’ve given the NA the environmentally friendly tactics and supply chain tactics to over a hundred of our competitors. At this point, we will give them to you, Jeff Bezos, we will let Amazon habit. If you’re going to copy us, at least copy our environmental standards. You’re making these, these knockoffs with products that aren’t helpful for everybody. And the truth is that people really care about that. Right? We’re moving into a world. We’ve moved into a world where there is an ethical component to how people are spending their money. And as they learn about these things, they spread the word pretty quickly. And they’ll do a lot of the work for you. And I think we’re seeing that in the metrics of lots of our customers and lots of the other companies that we work with. Charles (15:01): And I bet from a marketing point of view that letter, and like picking a fight with a giant, probably got them a lot of press, a lot of like a, a lot of press and a lot of links. And a lot of people just looking at, Hey, what’s all birds, but then B it gets the people that already knew them. It gets on that good side, right on like, look what this company’s doing. Look, they’re like, they really believe in that. It’s like so much the warranty they’re willing to give that to Amazon. So it probably helps on both sides. Jeremy (15:27): Well, and it provides that understanding, right? Like we now understand what’s important to them. We understand what makes their product different in the market. And now if I’m looking at a knockoff for half the price, it doesn’t matter that it’s half the price, because I know that what I’m buying on the other hand is something totally different. Charles (15:43): Yeah. And for the trip, the people who actually go in there, because they believe in that mission, they’re not going to get them on Amazon. Right. They’re going to, they need to go right. To Allbirds and do business with them. Exactly. Yeah. So you’re a logistics guy, right. How do you compete there though? Cause I feel like that’s the other side of, that’s the other side, right? Legit. Like the logistics, the, they have all your credit card information. They may make it so easy. You know, if you could be sitting here right now and walking down the street and think, Oh, I need some AA batteries and you hit order and I’m in Boston and like same day or next day, these batteries just like magically arrive at my house free of charge, free shipping rather. How do you compete with that side? It’s just, they’ve made it so easy. Jeremy (16:29): Yeah. And, and easy in front of the buy button is very different than easy behind the buy button. I started using the hashtag behind, not the buy button because you know, you, we can go to the bookstore, go to Amazon and there’s a million books on sales and marketing and hardly any on operations, the behind the buy button button work. And that’s really the difficult ness, right? The difficult elements, Shopify, for example, has done a fantastic job of smoothing the process in front of the buy button. And it’s important. You mean before the purchase purchase? Yeah. Making the purchase seamless, right. Making it easy. And I have Shopify is one of the five API to the apocalypse, but they are the only one that I see as a friend to the indie merchant. Right. So they are very different in their approach. Their goal is still get everyone on our infrastructure, but at this point in time, they are doing it for the right reasons, at least what we, from what we can gather. Jeremy (17:28): But as far as the, the tools that they need to compete in the warehouse behind the buy button, it’s very different. And I break it into the, in the book into six categories, things like packing, shipping, warehousing, data analytics, operations workers. And I can give you, you know, suggestions in each one of those. But I think a better example is I had a CEO of a company reach out to me right after the book launched. And he said, Hey, I just bought a bunch of copies of your book. I’ve given them to all my operations team members. They’ve we got all this grown software internally and they want us to work with this robotics company and we want to do automated picnicking and, and all this. And I started asking him some questions about his operation and he, he said, hold on a second. Jeremy (18:13): You’re going from zero to a hundred. Let’s, let’s talk about going from zero to one, right. You don’t just go out and buy a bunch of robots and expect it to work. Right. Expect it to sync with all your different systems and softwares you’re running in your, in your warehouse and expect that to actually provide the efficiencies that maybe a, an competitor like an Amazon is providing. So in the book, I break it down to very simple things, right? Like using hardware in the warehouse using scanners, right. Scanners have been around forever. This isn’t, you know like cutting edge technology, but many operations still don’t use them or use them completely. Right. They’re not using them to eliminate manual input in an order fulfillment process. Right. I talk about the treatment of workers in the warehouse, which is an element that I think is incredibly overlooked. Jeremy (19:03): The Mo the media picks up on all the, you know, Amazon and Walmart mistreating workers. But if you think about it, us is, you know, we’re on the technology side, but even in you know, the small and mid-sized company world we invest so much in our work environment in the front office. Right. And there’s the best, best places to work, right? No, no, no best places to work are our warehouses, right? What are we doing in the warehouse? We’re taking out any windows, any skylights we’re, it’s concrete floors. We’re putting us next to robots, not to make our jobs easier, but to make us worse work faster and more efficient at the things that robots can’t do. Like we, we don’t treat people very well in that scenario. And if you look at the data, the data shows that those people don’t actually perform very well for us because of how they’re being treated. Jeremy (19:53): We’re not getting the best out of the people that we’re employing. So on the operations worker side, I talk about treating people in the, in the warehouse, in Baja, you know, in the operation side, just as well as we do in front, right. Data and analytics, the fascinating thing from that, I’ve learned one of the things I’ve learned from my sales team, nine out of 10 companies, perspective companies we speak with do not have any operations goals or metrics that they’re being managed to. If you ask them what they’re trying to, like, what, what’s the goal? The answers are things like cheaper, faster, more. And, you know, my dad always told me growing up more is not a number. And so like things like just setting operational metrics, knowing what your average shipment cost is managing to that cost setting goals to get reduction or improvement in throughput can make radical differences for small and mid-sized operations. So like I said, look, I break it down categorically and make it very tangible. But those are the types of things we’re talking about. Charles (20:58): It’s funny. It’s almost like barcode scanners and like working environment. And just, if you’ve ever I actually worked in a warehouse and I was like, this is like my high school job. And like, you remember just like trying to like type in, like, your hands are cold warehouse freezing. Right. There’s no heat out there. And you’re trying to like type on this like little computer at the time. And if you don’t have a barcode scanner, it’s almost a possible cause like you might be wearing gloves and like, yeah. These like little things and it’s shock and shocking how much that slows you down. Right. Cause like all of a sudden, all right, get this box now I need to okay. Take my gloves off, do some data entry. Or I put them back on, get back on the truck. And like, it just slows down. It like slows down the whole process. And just those little things you don’t, unless you’ve done it before, you don’t know breaking down those hurdles really just like makes the process so much easier for the person working there and they want to go fast. Like you, you want to pick the boxes faster. You just can’t because you have to keep stopping. So then it just gets frustrating. You just end up just bogging down and saying, well, you know the hell with it, let’s just, let’s go to lunch. Jeremy (22:00): Absolutely. You’re a hundred percent. Right. And, and it goes even further, which box are you picking? How do you know that you’re picking the right box? Right? And then what you’re typing in is that accurate? How, how are you picking your carriers and your services we showed, we analyze like it’s like three quarters of a million shipments or something and found that those in those shipments, the customers that those represented or miss routing almost one in four shipments in their warehouse in a single or carrier environment. So they’re only using FedEx or they’re only using FedEx and the postal service. They’re still paying for a more expensive carrier because it’s being manually selected than is available. That still meets the delivery promise. And so they’re throwing money down the drain. So we don’t even need to go all the way to crazy, you know, these $200 million facilities that Amazon’s building. There are, there are simple things we can do today to make our, our operations radically more efficient. Charles (22:58): That’s a trick. I’m always surprised at how many retailers pull this little track, right? Where they get an order for two day shipping. And a lot of folks make a ton of money just doing this. And I didn’t know about this until people started kind of explaining to me like why they do it. They get it a two day like an overnight order today. And they realized, Oh, it’s like domino with my warehouse. I can just ship it ground. It’s going to make it there. Nope. You know, whatever, just pick the cheapest and it’ll get there in a day anyway. So they, and the difference of cost, it could be like $80 versus going to ship it for three. Right. Cause they can just ship it ground it’s right down the street. And a lot of them at a high volume make a significant amount of money just from that one little trick right there on just downgrading the shipping because they can Jeremy (23:39): Yep. The customer does not care. What the color of the truck is that shows up in front of their house. All they care about is that the order is on time as expected. Yep. Charles (23:50): Yeah. I’m guessing. So I’m guessing Shabaka and help with this, but also Amazon, they take advantage of this too, right? Like there’s a warehouse. I know Amazon where it’s, it’s quite literally down the street. So when they’re saying two day shipping time, it’s just because it’s right next door. It’s not like they have to really like put it on a plane and fly it here. They just bring it down the street. So that’s how so just knowing where they are and be able to do some little optimizations like that can really it’s it’s taking orders. You already have, it’s taking already volume already have and just making it more profitable doing it that way. Correct? Yup. Yup. So how did, when you said Shopify takes a different angle on this and it does it for the right reasons. What were you saying there? Actually, I was kind of addressing. Jeremy (24:32): Yeah. So Shopify you were talking before about it’s I love the language, you know, they’re great at this, but arm, the rebels, right. They see the rebels as the independent merchants, the Indies, right. Those are who we’re trying to support. That’s why I wrote the book. You’re right. It’s a small, and mid-sized companies that feed families and build communities. Our society is built around this model, right? We aren’t built to have five global powerhouse companies that control everything and everybody and Shopify sees this and their perspective has been, Hey, our goal is not to build the Shopify brand. Our bill goal is to build our customers’ brands and it’s actually working so well that this last Christmas word came out. I forgot the name of it already, which is embarrassing. Because Amazon has a project, a secret project internally now because Shopify independent merchants actually sold more than Amazon third-party merchants. Jeremy (25:26): This past holiday season and Bezos has been reportedly pretty upset about that, but you’ll see Shopify, isn’t pushing the Shopify logo everywhere. They’re pushing the merchant logo, right. They’re pushing tools that enable those merchants as standalones and collectively I, I find it frustrating. I know they don’t want to do it because they don’t want to become a marketplace. But I find it frustrating that I can’t go to a single place and find all of the Shopify merchants so I can search like an Amazon, but on an independent merchant network. Right? One of the benefits of Amazon is simply that’s simple search, but Shopify has protect, perfected the backend when you’re doing your checkout. If it is a Shopify store and you’ve purchased on Shopify before, boom, you get an instant modal that pops up, it already has your credit card, your mailing address send you a text message. Jeremy (26:15): You put four numbers in and the checkout is complete. And then I can monitor all those in the same app. So if I’m, if I have multiple products and transit, I can see all of that tracking data in one place. So they’ve done a really good job of supporting the independent merchant from that perspective. And I, and I, I think that will continue as the authenticity and reason for the brands matters more because more people are going to be buying from Shopify type merchants as opposed to the alternatives, unless they’re there. I’m just looking for the cheapest price. In which case, you know, I read something a few months ago that something like 40% of the Amazon 33rd party merchants now are based in China. And so we’re actually buying things from overseas. It’s different quality. We don’t know if it’s authentic. There’s not as many processes in place because they’re just so big, right? Jeremy (27:08): You buy from a Parker clay. I know exactly what I get. I know who I’m dealing with. Funny example, I actually, my three little boys, a skateboard and one of them is dropping into some pretty big drops now. And he took some heavy falls this last weekend. So I went on and bought him some new kneepads. I got a text message within 30 minutes of me placing the order from the owner of the knee pad company I bought from just asking, are you sure you want this size? I’ll get the order out tomorrow. And that’s, that’s something you’re never going to get with those big brands. But guess what? That business, that text message is feeding that guy’s family, it’s building his business. It’s, it’s contributing to his community. Charles (27:46): Yeah. And it’s surprising how you can, it’s surprising at what level you can still do things like that. Like people think while it’s not scalable and really the answer is like, it doesn’t need to be like, like you’re not scaling from zero to, you know, 10,000 orders a day. Like you can do that for a long time. Like you can text and then eventually automate that. Like, it’s not that hard to automate. You’ll get that pretty quick. And I think people, they don’t want to do this stuff at the beginning that they want to have everything. That’s like hands off like very scalable processes, but really they want, you don’t need that. Right? Like that manual stuff kind of that being fully automated from day one is what takes that human factor out of it. Jeremy (28:24): Correct. But if you do the human factor at the beginning, if you take it slow and you slowly add in the logical automations and don’t try to make huge leaps, like the example I gave earlier of, of the robotics example even the automated elements can still have customized components and still feel to that end buyer. Like they’re dealing with, you know, a brand that cares about them. It doesn’t need to appear. I watched a really funny video yesterday. I think it’s wholly inaccurate, but it was really funny. This guy pretended to be three different delivery drivers or four different delivery drivers. So first comes the, you know, the ups guy and he just kind of, he’s talking on his cell phone, drops the box and leaves then comes the FedEx guy. He doesn’t even get up to the door. He just throws the box and leaves then comes the postal guy. Jeremy (29:15): He sneaks up to the door to make sure no one’s seeing him drops the box, kicks the vase over and leaves. And then here comes Amazon. Yeah, the Amazon DSP guy who sets it down really nice has air freshener has pocket sprays. The air freshener, fixes the mat and then walks away nicely, totally an accurate, but the point is, is you can still deliver those type of, of well thought out, caring experiences customers by starting like you’re talking about with those manual processes, getting to know the customers, you know, reaching out on a one-on-one basis. So you’re actually scaling and automating the right things. Not just order fulfillment, which encompasses way too much, right. Order fulfillment is, is too many things. Warehousing is too many things. It means nothing at this point. Charles (30:01): And it, certain parts is like, you, you have to do fulfillment. You have to like, everyone’s come to expect. Philips will be fast. It’s going to get there. Like it’s not going to be broken. Like all these things are just table stakes at this point, that extra text, that’s the part that you get. And you don’t think that’s the part that like you stop and go, Oh wow. Like that’s a pilot that iPads are talking about. Not the fact they arrived and you know, they got their like whatever that you expect them to get there at this point. Like that’s not a surprise anymore, but that text is a surprise. So I think those are the little things that you need to actually, what’s the expression, like a surprise and delight the user, the buyers and do something that’s not being done by the marketplace. And just some random third party seller that sells some generic kneepads they bought wherever. Like that’s something that’s unique. Jeremy (30:48): Absolutely. And that is the authenticity of the cells. And even the big companies are, are noticing that. I talk about a Deloitte study where they talk about Unilever and dove and Vaseline and a lift in ice tea and how the brands that have a purpose and a mission that’s clearly communicated the brands that are authentic with our customers, even within this, you know, mega corporation are outperforming all of the other products. Charles (31:14): Yeah. I could. How are they getting to act? How are they actually getting this message out though? Is it just through the site or is this through like social? Are you seeing people do this? Like how is it what’s the actual mechanism look like? Jeremy (31:26): Yeah. It’s interesting that you say that because I’ve seen a lot of different tactics and as they’re small like I said earlier on those tactics, they feed on themselves. It’s like a snowball, right? You have like like this knee pad company, my friend told me because the guy texted him. I bought now I’m telling you and all your listeners because of a text, right? Like these things, snowball. And that, that company is called boneless. By the way, if I’m telling their story, I may as well, let everyone know who they are. I don’t see them. Yeah. I don’t see them more. I don’t see them more traditional solutions, the advertising, the social media, I mean social. Yeah. Post on Instagram, they do their thing. But I don’t see those routinely picking up until the brand already has traction. Jeremy (32:19): Right. Those aren’t the elements that get the brand traction. They get it by being authentic. People care about it. They’re like this brand matters, right. I want to wear a wool runner. That’s, that’s, you know, good for the earth. I want to buy a, you know, a handbag that is made by you know, women that can’t get other work, right. This is actually, you know, taking care of them and families keeping their kids out of, out of the orphanage. It’s like, that is a real story that’s really happening. And so then they tell other people in the brand gets traction. And at that point, the question is, well, do we want to grow faster? And they start adopting more and more of the traditional marketing elements. Charles (32:59): Yeah. I think some people have this fair that are gonna like turn off a certain section of buyer, like, Hey, with the eco-friendly and everyone that doesn’t care about that they’re not gonna buy from us. What do you say to those people? Jeremy (33:13): That is the entire point, right? Like you can’t be everything to everyone. You’re not trying to find everyone. You’re trying to find your group, your people, your audience, the people that care about what you care about the world is so big. And there are so by, in terms of the volume of people on the planet and there it is so connected that the tiniest of tiny markets can be huge. Right. There was a, a, a talk I heard years ago. I forgot who gave it, it might’ve been Seth Goden. But they talked about this backyard chicken farmer and his backyard chicken farming podcast and how big this thing had gotten. And you think about small audiences. I mean, backyard chicken farmers, aren’t going for everybody. Right. That is a very niche audience yet. It’s enough for this guy to have global, you know, brand advertisers and everything else. So yeah, the entire point is to, to disqualify just as much as it is to qualify your ideal tar kind of target audience. Charles (34:18): Yeah. I think this is new in the past 20 years. It’s all right. Where before you could only, if you’re a retailer, you can only reach the people in your geographic location, right? So you just want to hit the people in my zip code. Great. As long as we can resonate with them, we’re doing good. But with the backyard chicken farmers, you can dominate the global backyard, chipping chicken farming market. And in your neighborhood, that’s probably not a big thing, but in the world, if you put enough of them together, now you’re talking, you actually have a following, like you said. So I think that’s, that’s a difference. People, it’s a kind of change in mindset on, Oh, now we’re in, you know, we’re not trying to reach our audience based on where we are physically, but we’re trying to base our audience based on where we are, where our stance is in the market and how we look at our lens and how we view the world. Jeremy (35:06): Absolutely. And it works. We see, we see it working in growing very big businesses. Charles (35:12): Yeah. The nice part with that is there’s still a place, right? The guy that wants to buy the cheapest. Yeah. I just bought a new pair of slippers the other day. And I went to LL bean. Right. They very nice products usually. They made right by Maine, but if you want to buy like the cheapest slippers, you could go on Amazon. Right? Like they probably have ones for eight bucks. You can buy them. They won’t feel as nice. And the last, like whatever, there is a place that I was, and they probably do quite well, but that same buyer, isn’t also looking at LL bean. They’re just not the same person at all. So I think, and that’s the thing and they’re okay with it. They’re both okay with that. Like if you want to be the cheapest, there’s a place in the market for that right now. And if you want to be this authentic company from Maine that makes, you know, like handmade boots, there’s a place for that too. And people willing to pay more, which is a nice part. Jeremy (35:58): True. And unless you’re going to be like an Amazon or a wish or a Walmart, right. There’s I don’t think there’s a place in the market for small, independent guys to try to be the cheapest. Right. Because that, that space is taken. Charles (36:12): That’s a mistake. You see people making, they want to, they want to compete and you realize you can, you just can’t win head to head, just like turn around and give up. It’s like, you’re trying to face the army. Like a head-on it’s never going to work that way. Right. You have to come in from a different angle, flank them. Like you have to do stuff in a very different way. Like you said, that they can’t do. And I think that’s the thing, so Jeremy (36:33): Yeah. Which, yeah, which you do as a competitor anyway. I mean, if you’ve got an ice cream shop and there’s another ice cream shop down the street or on the other side of the corner, right. Like you’re not going to say, Oh, Hey, come here. Cause my ice cream is just like theirs. Right. We’re already looking for differentiation in our businesses every day. So I think it’s recognizing Amazon is a and Walmart, these guys are monster competitors and there are some things they do very well. So let’s do what we do very well. Let’s be true to what we do and, and make sure that our audience knows that Charles (37:07): I like that. Yeah. And I think it’s 20, 20 there’s, there’s that layer underneath, like you’ve said the logistics, all that, you can finally tap into a lot of these services, a lot of this layer under, underneath you. So you can actually ship faster. And like, you can, like you said, process credit cards or Shopify has an app, right. That before, as a retailer, you couldn’t develop an app for everyone’s phone to show where the packages, but now Shopify does that for you. So you have the, you know, the dial tone underneath, like you have the network under you and all you need, and you’re doing now, you’re adding a layer on top of that and actually making the S the part that has to be authentic. Fine. You can do that, but like getting the order out and processing a credit card, no one really cares about how that works. So that’s just kind of the dial tone. So it’s really finally, I feel like we’re at a point where we’ve built that bottom layer, that part’s actually pretty easy for a merchant. Now it is. And now it’s that top, that customer facing side that you can actually customize and make your own. Jeremy (38:01): Yup. Yup. I think that was well said. Huh? Charles (38:04): All right. Well, thanks for that. Well, maybe that’s a good place to end it then. If anyone’s going to check out the book, kind of learn more about what you’re working on, what can they do that? Jeremy (38:12): So they can go, the book is on Amazon, it’s adapter die. I can be found on my website at Jeremy Boden, hammer.com. Bowden hammer has one M I can also be reached at ship hock. That’s like the boat and the bird is ship hok.com. Charles (38:29): Awesome. All right. I will only tell that in the show notes and thanks a lot for coming on today. I appreciate that. Jeremy (38:34): I appreciate it.
21 minutes | Dec 31, 2020
Business of eCommerce – 2020 Year In Review – E153
Sponsors: Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code! Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the business. E-Commerce I talk about why 2020 year end review. This is a business of e-commerce Episode 153. Charles (00:17): Welcome to the business. E-Commerce the show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow their e-commerce business. I mean, host house plus ski, and I’m here today to talk about some of the highlights do a review of 2020 at the end, we’re going to show some of my favorite clips, different interviews, different things we’ve spoke about over 2020. And let’s just review this year. 2020 has been one wild ride earliest. You had the coronavirus hit. The world has changed. E-Commerce forever. We’ve seen back orders and shipping delays. You’ve seen issues in e-commerce that have happened at a scale, never imagined before, but we have all seen an influx of new buyers, trying comments for the first time. People in quarantine have had no choice, but to shop online, they’ve tried e-commerce and these are folks who’ve never tried it before. And now all of a sudden their buyers, their uses of e-commerce. Charles (01:16): And I believe that they’re here to stay retailers I’ve talked to have said 2020 has been the best shower for them. And I think this is going to the trend is going to continue. So we can go and talk about all the downsides of 2020, but also there’s been some huge upsides and we should definitely acknowledge effort and know that this might be the new normal, and we might be living in a world that’s more connected than ever. And we start to understand how a delay in shipping can really affect the delay, getting a product into the hands. I want to look back at some of the episodes, some of the interviews I’ve done the share and highlight some of the really cool folks that I’ve talked with. There’s a lot of interesting things that have come up. So let’s do a little clip episode and I hope everyone has a great new year’s and look forward talking to everyone in 2021. So let’s get onto a few clips. A few highlights from this year is episodes. Speaker 2 (02:12): Well, the first thing that I just want to kind of start with is the difference between e-commerce and M commerce. For those of you that are listening, that may not really have a definitive knowledge, but e-commerce is commerce conducted via the internet and commerce is business done on a mobile device. Speaker 3 (02:30): I recommend you go all in. So if you don’t have money for the course, but you want to launch a product and you, you are short in cash because I had some savings. If you don’t have it, don’t buy a course, go to YouTube, check out. You can find all this information on YouTube. I’m the kind of person that needs guidance, especially in a start. So just like Instagram marketing, Facebook marketing, any other kinds of marketing, it’s, it’s a different beast. But has most similar benefits and this year has been as you know, unusual Charles (03:02): To say the least. Yeah, for me, if anything is just evolving. Speaker 4 (03:07): Well, the important thing is that the email is that especially the past 12 months with also what’s been happening in the world, the way the email has been used with other channels has become a lot more important. So the likes of SMS, the likes of messenger using things like quizzes to pull any email addresses. Charles (03:24): So what you do is your photos or 3d renders for your listing need to be showing the value of the product, not just, Oh, mine’s a great photo, but the differentiation you did with the product. Speaker 5 (03:39): So when you start looking at, I need to get into a warehouse I’m, you know, maybe. So I think the first thing you have to do is you have to identify what is the warehouse in e-commerce we can be dealing with people who are operating out of a basement, a garage, a bedroom, all the way up to somebody that’s running maybe 500,000 square foot warehouse and everything in between. Yeah. Charles (03:59): So we sell a digital membership to a program that’s called Vitan and Vitan helps people grow in their careers. So, you know, the average corporate job of posting today gets 250 applications or resumes for every single application. So it’s normal for job seekers to be pretty frustrated with the process you think about your competing. And right now, especially with the pandemic, you’re competing with a lot more people. Speaker 4 (04:22): If we’re going to make everything cost them, we’re going to might as well make it company, because this was already, this was already going to cost us about like a hundred for the Cape of the molds. We were like, Hey, just like, if you’re doing custom design, we want, you probably want to do custom stuff here. That’s why it took us so long to make the other sides of, because we just like, we just can’t afford another mold. Speaker 5 (04:43): Yeah, that’s exactly right. And we’ve because of that, we’ve really started to focus our business on subscription and that’s worked really well for us over the last two years, we actually transitioned and migrated from Magento over to Shopify specifically for the reason of just being able to get up spun up on subscriptions faster. Charles (05:00): It’s interesting as we built that team, you know, you get some people who are more pay marketing focused, some people who are brand marketing, growth, hackers, all these different things, they’re kind of the best definition I’ve used at least is, is kind of more like a metaphor actually. The way we think about it is a business is really just a tray. That’s continuing to move and it’s the growth team’s growth team’s job to be able to delay those trucks. Today’s episode is sponsored by drip, drip. It’s a world’s first e-commerce CRM. And the tool that I personally use for email marketing and automation. Now, if you are running an e-commerce store, you need to drip a try. And here’s why drip offers one-click integrations for both Shopify and Magento. There’s robust segmentation, personalization, and revenue dashboards. To give you an overview of how your automation emails are performing. Charles (05:51): One of my favorite features of drip is the visual workflow builder. It gives you a super easy way to build out your automation visually and see the entire process. It lets you get started quickly, but also build very complex automation roles. It’s powerful, but also easy to learn. Unlike a lot of email tools that offer the same type of automation to get a demo of drip today, you can go head over to drip.com/boe. That’s drip.com/b O E. Now onto the show. I have a bunch of ads and you’re welcome. I may have sent you those links, maybe, maybe a posting, but G people can watch their videos and I write them into my shoot him and you’ll see I, so I associate totally with all of your happy childhood memories. So cardboard, rocket ships, birthday parties fairies magic. And so I bring up all of these other memories and we’re just lump them in. Charles (06:43): And so when we talk about the Brooklyn, when we do our advertising, we really kind of speak to the customer or the voice that we speak to the customer is basically Willy Wonka, selling dresses. Yeah. Like maybe the biggest challenges were like starting to gain traction in the U S because it’s, once we, once we got the first customers and like, started like that, the word started spreading in our niche, then it became more easier. And we were able to benefit a lot from the early days of influencers. We work a lot with mid-market companies. And so, you know, there’s lots of data and we always say, it’s kind of like the kitchen drawer or the junk drawer you have in your house where you open it up and there’s like birthday candles and band-aids and all sorts of junk. And that’s kind of how their data is structured. Speaker 6 (07:32): Yeah. I think there’s a few things. So Amazon’s competitive advantage was always that they could get it there faster and cheaper than, than retail. Right. So you would get, when I had young kids, I had a subscribe and save subscription for diapers and I wouldn’t have to run out to target and go get diapers every month diapers would appear. And I wouldn’t have to go pack up my kid and go get them. And now, as you’ve seen, you know, target Walmart, they have curbside, they have online shopping, they have much faster delivery and they’re finally taking advantage of their competitive advantage, which is they have all that inventory within five miles of view. Charles (08:09): Yeah. So I think the easiest, when a began and everyone thinks, Oh, there’s gotta be another more sneaky way to do it, but, but everyone should start on Alibaba. So I know it’s the common you know, way to find suppliers, but it’s also one of the best search engines to do that in China. Yes. So a lot of it you know, you obviously have to have you know, the, the, the vendor side so homeowners, you know, when they come to your website, don’t, they don’t get quotes, then they’re never coming back. So our biggest problem was getting vendors on board. And what we did is we just went on Craigslist and just cold called, you know, guys that were throwing their landscaping business on Craigslist. And they called those people until we got maybe 20 or 30 in the Nashville area. Charles (08:59): And that’s when we kind of started you know, doing the press release and stuff like that. And in the Nashville area to, to help bring some awareness to our to our website. And I’m going to shout out to Gino Wickman traction is an amazing book and I highly recommend everyone reading it. It’s a great concept. We use it within our agency to run our business, and it’s essentially like a framework to approach problems and how to kind of operate your business. It’s a fantastic, fantastic you know, starting point to understand like how to actually run a business. Speaker 7 (09:39): I tell everybody is like, if you go to a local attorney, they’re going to be reinventing the wheel. If you use one of our templates, we’ve had over 6,000 people buy our products in the last five years. So you’re going to have something that has been, I mean, depending on the template, you’re going to have something that thousands of people have, or at least hundreds of people have seen given us feedback on. And we’ve improved that. I mean, you just can’t do that on a one-to-one basis. So it’s, it’s a really cool, almost like crowdsourced effective product. If that makes sense. Speaker 4 (10:10): I don’t actually focus as much on transactional, the nature of like order or shipping confirmations. Those are fairly straight forward. I think a lot of people in a lot of companies can make their transactional emails look a lot better. Right? Most people just set them up in Shopify or whatever platform they’re on and they kind of just set it and forget it. So where I kinda come in really it’s on the low hanging fruit on the automation side. So what are the core flows that you have? What are the core flows that you’re missing? So for me, kind of the three core flows that I’m always ensuring that people have at the bare minimum is the welcome series, right? So greeting new subscribers, the abandoned checkout, basically pushing those people over the ledge to make sure that they’re buying from us. They might’ve, you know, forgot about us. They might’ve been waiting for an email to see if there was a discount. Maybe we didn’t offer free shipping, right? So the abandoned checkout emails inherently have a really strong engagement and really strong conversion. Charles (10:59): So we’ve always targeted just a bash majority of everyone, right? But when you, when you’re doing Facebook ads, you want to target certain demographics, age, gender by their income. And then by the ad copy itself on the actual the Facebook ad, you know, so you want to talk about it towards a mom saying, Hey, your children spends X amount of time outside a year. If you get cross net, you’re going to get your kid out there even times, too, you know, simple things like that. You can launch on e-commerce store quicker than to get a burger place going through the drive through. So that’s a pretty simple EMEA as a marketing team, we want to spend a world at some sort of word that something like exist that it’s so easy to start to experiment, basically become an e-commerce store owner. There’s actually four parts to it. Charles (11:50): I call it the, the tax friendly, right? So what people think is, Oh, you just put your company somewhere else. And you can pay less tax by just moving your company to the Cayman islands. Did you sit around in Boston or Los Angeles or Sydney or whatever? It’s not quite that easy if you’re not Google or Amazon or Starbucks, but the reality is, I mean, what they, those companies have done is they have basically planted a flag of convenience in places around the world that allow them to keep more of their money. And so what my five magic words are, are go where you’re treated best. Something that we’ve found to be extremely effective is email marketing. I think it’s something that especially new e-commerce stores hesitate to jump into and really focus on is something that I personally failed to do for the first couple of years of my business as well. At least for me, like, I, I, I didn’t see email is it’s kind of the future of marketing. I thought it was kind of old school. Cause it didn’t really work on, on me personally as a consumer Speaker 8 (12:54): Feeling. Right. And a little bit experimentation with different markets and just seeing throwing spaghetti at the wall in San Juan sticks. But yeah, totally. It just came back full circle that the backpackers backpackers made sense, you know, and by focusing on that niche, it really, it gave us kind of a sharp spearhead. Right. You know which I think before in the classic saying is like you market to everybody, you market to no one, which that was us to a T army to a T. Yeah. Speaker 9 (13:22): Yeah. That’s true. And it’s interesting, you mentioned Oprah were back in the day you’re right. It was just, it was only platforms like that where a brand could really quote unquote go viral. I mean, you could just really explode, but at the same time, that type of growth as you had mentioned could also be really the kiss of death for a brand because, you know, as you know, cause I know you’ve dealt with a lot of retail businesses before and you, you know, the ins and outs of fulfilling products you know, if you get a, a glut of orders and in a short amount of time and you can’t fulfill them you know, it’s the word of mouth is going to spread. You know, you’re going to get a bunch of people making all of these orders. If you can’t fulfill them, the word spreads and people are eventually going to, you know, cancel their orders, do charge backs, tell their friends, and then your whole online reputation is ruined. And so at that point you’re really almost worse off then never having that recommendation by, you know, a huge icon like an Oprah or, or something. Charles (14:24): Yeah. I mean, as far as hiring, I mean, we’re looking to bring on a handful of people in this new year and I’ve had many people say, Hey, I can’t work remotely. I must have team and people in the office to keep myself accountable. I need that. I absolutely need that. And I just can’t work with them because I can’t be in the office with you all the time. I’ve got a packed schedule. I’m traveling, I’ve got all this work-related stuff. We want team members that can hold themselves accountable. Working from home could be challenging if the environment isn’t right. I hear people want to go wash their dishes or clean their house and do these things. That’s why you have to have clear outcomes. Right. Speaker 4 (14:58): Great question. Well, you know, let me tell you first what I see people do. And when I see people do is they chat with their friends. First of all, I was like, Hey, if I built this, would you buy it? I’m like, Oh brother, you know, you gotta, you gotta get some real opinions. But you know, the interesting thing is it’s so easy to do this, but so few people really kind of make it a priority. And that, that astounds me. So one of the things that I like to tell folks is, look, you got to remember that people don’t search using the physical aspects of the product people don’t search for, you know, I need something that’s so many inches tall and so many inches wide, et cetera, people search for the need that they have, or the problem they’re trying to solve. Charles (15:38): It’s very competitive compared to even two or three years ago. So search is, is a demand driven supply and demand. So it’s CPC bid based. So you could throw money at it three or four years ago and probably be pretty successful. I mean, when CPCs are 10 cents, it’s kind of hard to screw that up. They’re not now, you know, they’re, they’re upwards of, we see CBCs over $50 in some categories, categories of those. So think mattress category, you know, your average ring is probably three, 400 bucks. Yep. Well, I’ve been working with entrepreneurs for 25 years and the last few years it’s been very much e-commerce Amazon entrepreneurs. And and yeah, I, I agree with you. Totally. I think patents is a topic that Amazon sellers that e-commerce people don’t focus on enough. And I think it’s the thing that could have the biggest impact on their business that they probably know the least about, you know, what I’ve seen over the years is it, it depends on the size of the business and the sophistication of the business and what they bring to the table. Charles (16:49): And, and so when we’ve worked years ago with franchises and small businesses, there was a lot of that here, let me give this to you. Please help me. And then, you know, they don’t look at their reports and, you know, essentially if they really can’t see that the phone is ringing often enough, that’s when you’re going to get a phone call and have to defend all the work that you’ve done, even though they probably haven’t read all the reports for the last four or five months, copy hackers. I talked about it being a training business on one end, there’s the service side, of course, but the training business that’s full e-commerce, it’s just delivering courses online that you buy online, you go through a process. So our, our core business is an e-commerce business when it comes down to it. So I have seen for my business as well as for our clients who are any commerce, just how critical email is to growing a business. The big picture is that when you think about Speaker 7 (17:50): Your pricing strategy, it’s not enough to just, it’s not the flow that you first create a product, then you publish it on Amazon, create the listing, ship it to Amazon, and then you sit and think what price I should put. Actually the price strategy should start before you even go design your product. Speaker 10 (18:07): It is, it is hard to hire a four, especially because SEO encompasses so much. And as an SEO that works for an e-commerce company, isn’t going to work for his house company. Isn’t going to work for a services company. And so, so while, while that is very true. And so you kind of got to figure out what are the different things that I need, if you don’t know SEO, then you know, it’s going to be hard to say like, okay, do we need you know, do we need content? Do we need technical? Do we need links? Like, you know, what is it? I get a lot of people coming to me saying like, I need links. I look at their site and I’m like, I can’t even load your site. Right. It takes 20 seconds to load. Like we, we need to solve that first. They’re like, no, I just need links. Okay. Good luck to you. Charles (18:38): And I will say this, I mean, not to sell ourselves short. I mean, we got really, really nerdy in the process. Okay. I mean, myself in particular, I mean, we had a conversation the other day with our chemist John, because like I said, we’re developing some other products right now and I don’t remember what the ingredient was, but I, I was talking about this ingredient and off the top of my head, I said, well, correct me if I’m wrong, the reason that we want to increase the percentage of that ingredient would be to do XYZ. And he goes, that’s exactly right. And it’s just because I think to do it, you, you as a brand leader, have to understand what you’re putting in there. I understand every one of the ingredients that we have in here, I know what they do. I know where they’re source from. Charles (19:21): I know why we put them in there. I even know the safety rating of every single ingredient in here. And, you know, I mean, that was done purposefully. I read a book that I recommend to everyone. Pretty much everyone knows it’s called think and grow rich by Napoleon Hill. And one of the stories that is also kind of popular and you hear other people talking about it is if you want to take an Island, you have to like burn the ships that you float, that you went there on. That gives you no retreat, no surrender. You got to go. And I almost, I get emotional because, you know, if we didn’t know, you don’t know, you know, you’ve got you, you believe in it. And I believed in it and I, and I knew like I wasn’t lying to myself. I was like, I love this product. I believe in it. And if I really do believe in it, other people are going to be out there. And we’re not that different as humans, we pretty, pretty similar. And Mo and a lot of ways, you know, we might think a little bit differently, but for the most part, we’re very similar. So I was like, if I believe in it, I’ll find an audience that also believes that Speaker 7 (20:34): My first book actually took me about six months to finish. And I don’t think it was actually the tasks I had to perform to finish it. It was the mindset of just writing a book and publishing a book, sounded like such a huge intimidating task. And it really took a lot to work through that and find that motivation and overcome the fear and the worry. And now I can like conceive of a book and write it and publish it in maybe less than a week.
50 minutes | Dec 17, 2020
7 Strategies to Grow Your eCommerce Business
Jennifer Glass CEO of Business Growth Strategies International Sponsors: Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code! Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software Show Notes: eCommerce vs mCommerce Customer Avatar Buyer Journal Traction It’s the Bottom Line That Matters: Quick Tips & Strategies You Can Use Right Now to Grow Your Business in the Next 12-Months Strategies How are you driving traffic? Look at shipping – Increase AOV – Average order value Look at costs Are you using Level 2 or Level 3 data? Hotspot Videos Kiosks and Apps Email Marketing Lead magnet Abandon Carts – Omni-Channel Marketing The Journey from $0 to $200k per Year Selling on Amazon Hot items Shopify – 12 Trending Products to Sell in 2020 Spark Shipping – Best 50 Dropshipping Products Of 2020 Transcript Charles (00:00): In this episode of the business. E-Commerce I talk with Jennifer Glass about the seven strategies to grow your e-commerce business. This is the business to be commerce episode 152. Charles (00:19): Welcome to the Business of eCommerce. The show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow the e-commerce business. I’m your host, Charles Palleschi. And I’m here today with Jennifer Glass. Jennifer is a CEO of business growth strategies, international. She is a business growth expert who works with small to medium-sized businesses to help them find the money that they are leaving on the table. On this show today, she maps out seven strategies that you can use to grow your e-commerce business. I love the kind of list format, which kind of has different bullet points and kind of, we go from really different parts of the business anywhere from growth to saving money, but basically ways to just increase the business and not leave money on the table. So think it’s a great episode to check out all seven and I’ll also link to them in the show notes. She goes a lot of good links. So we’ll put all that there. So check that out if you can too, and let’s go onto the show. Hey Jennifer, how are you today? Jennifer (01:13): I’m doing great, Charles. Thank you so much for having me. I hope all is well with you as well. Yeah. Charles (01:17): Have you on the show, definitely excited to dig into this. I love having a list of things in particular, so seven strategies to grow your e-commerce business. So we were talking about this earlier. You kind of mapped out just seven things. Is this generally for e-commerce or you’ve worked with, and you work with small business owners in general, right? Jennifer (01:39): Worked with, I work with small business owners and general but it really is, you know, a lot of the strategies that we’re going to be focusing on are focused for the e-commerce folks. Yep. A lot of strategies without a question are work both ways, whether you’re online or offline, but there are certain strategies that are going to be focused specifically to the online businesses and how they can take that and really convert even more clients into people wanting to buy. So if you’re an e-com client econ business, you’re definitely going to want to pay close attention. If you are in an old world you know, one of those professional brick and mortar or whatever kinds of businesses, this is totally going to be up your alley as well. Cause a lot of the strategies are really working both ways in terms of what you need to be paying attention to and why, why not? Okay. All right. Let’s get into it. Absolutely. Charles (02:43): Where would Jennifer (02:43): You start? Well, the first thing that I just want to kind of start with is the difference between e-commerce and M commerce. For those of you that are listening, that may not really have a definitive knowledge, but e-commerce is commerce via the internet and commerce is business done on a mobile device. And there is a difference in terms of the way that people are looking at things, the way that they’re shopping, the way that they’re interacting with your business. Because if you do have a brick and mortar business and somebody is in your business at that time, and they go on their phone, that is going to be an M commerce transaction. If they’re looking at information about a product or if they’re trying to price match or what have you, which really is going to be important in terms of that understanding just as we get into that conversation, as we look at the rest of the strategies and how it can potentially relate back to e-com and commerce or brick and mortar kind of business. Jennifer (03:45): But one of the first things though, once we get that straightened down, one of the strategies that we want to look at is what exactly are you doing in terms of marketing in general, right? How are you driving traffic? There is search engine optimization, there’s ads. And one thing about ads, a word about that. If you don’t know who you’re targeting, right? There’s a term in marketing called an avatar and I’m not referring to James camera’s blue people. In terms of the avatars, it’s a representation of your ideal client. If you know exactly who you’re marketing to, you can create ads that are going to hit what their pain points are and then deliver on those points. If you are looking at it from a different perspective, though, like I’m just going to Mark it everybody, then you’re not going to be converting on those ads. Jennifer (04:38): And that’s really going to be a major issue that you’re going to want to look at because you don’t want to be wasting money. Whether it’s during times of good economic times or down economic times, it doesn’t matter. You don’t want to waste money. Every dollar you spend as a dollar, you don’t have to put back into your business and put food on your table. So you want to be really paying attention to how you’re actually marketing and the right ways to get out there. So that’s one of the issues that you’re gonna want to be paying attention to. Another one is reviews. How many of you are looking at reviews? Charles (05:13): I’ve mentioned this one thing with the avatar. I’ve mentioned this before on the show. And I think that’s one of those things that you tell business owners at the beginning, like you should do this. And they’re like going through the marketing book and they just like skip ahead to another chapter and just like gloss over it every time. And it’s like the most crucial step you should not be doing that, especially when you’re smaller and can’t afford to right where you need to know exactly who you’re targeting. And you’re going to, you know, maybe when you’re larger, you can have 10 different target markets, whatever that is. But when you’re small, you need to be retargeting, you know, like Fred the farmer and like it’s Fred is like a left-handed farmer that likes to drive. Like, you know, it’s like super specific on and people even named the avatar, like these, like the friend, the, whatever, that sort of thing. And you used to be so like laser specific, I think so many people just like skip over that step that, and I said it every time, but want to say it again, because it’s so important that people don’t just gloss over that part. Jennifer (06:10): Oh, absolutely. And it’s also really important as you’re looking at that avatar, what their buyer journey is. And if you’re not familiar with the buyer journey, it means how do they start realizing they have a problem and going from there to the point where they ultimately end up buying from you, if you’re going to be saying something, Oh, you’ve got a, and I’m going to pick on an accounting software as an example. Cause I seem to do this all the time anyway, but why not? So if I have a business and I am outgrowing my accounting solution that I have right now, my software, I know that my software can do what it does. I may not even know how to put it into words. What my problem is before I started figuring out, Oh, I should probably talk to another company. So I don’t even know that I have a problem until really I know exactly how to quantify what the problem is. Jennifer (07:07): And then from there I can then move forward. But if you’re marketing in a way, yeah, we can handle up to 150,000 people on an accounting system. You know what, if I’ve got five people in my office, you just completely lost me. You only have one first chance at a first impression, which is why that avatar is extremely important and what the avatar’s pain point is at that moment. So that way, you know exactly where they’re going. Because if you can’t talk to the issue, that’s keeping Fred the farmer up at night and Fred is looking, I have to meet payroll next week. And he doesn’t care about buying anything else except for what is going to help him meet payroll for his farmhands that are going to be necessary. That’s all he cares about. And so stop trying to sell him a coaching software because it’s completely irrelevant to what he needs and it’s not going to make that difference. Jennifer (08:06): If it’s something that’s going to help him, like here’s the tool that can dramatically increase your crop yield. Well, do I need it in six months? Or do I need it next week? Yeah. I always need crop yields to grow. I’m a farmer, right. But I don’t need it in six months. So keep in mind where your avatar is at that moment so that you can Mark it in the right direction. And so if you’re going out and you’re going to be doing Facebook ads, pay attention to them, find the people that are specifically looking in the specific area that you are trying to address and bring them into your landing page. At that point, don’t bring them down all the way in the end of the road and start giving them all these additional one-time offers, whatever of LTDs and things you want to be doing, because he may not be looking at that right now and he’s not ready. And you may ultimately end up burning that relationship instead of cementing it. Charles (09:07): So start with basically how your driving style with that one funnel. It sounds like, right? Like have that funnel and just kind of nail it, how you get in, how you getting someone there and just figure that first funnel out. Jennifer (09:18): Oh, absolutely. It’s how my paying attention to my market. And then once you have that start that and always measure. If you can’t measure what you’re doing, how do you know it’s succeeding? And the other thing is so many people go out there and they try three, four, five different tactics to get a client. But how do you know, which is actually producing the result versus not producing a result. A lot of people stop paying attention to that. And it’s like, Ooh, there’s another shiny object, another shiny object. And I’m going to try all of these. And eventually you’re like, I don’t know which one actually works. And if you’re not, by the way, doing AB testing, which is why this is really important. You can’t now what you need to improve on is your offer failing because it’s the wrong audience, the wrong message, the wrong offered the wrong time. What is it that’s failing or not giving a lot? Or how can you increase what’s out there once, you know, it did work. How can you put more fuel on the flame to help it go even more? So that way you can get even more people just like front, the farmer coming in is going to want to buy from you because you answered Fred’s problem. Charles (10:35): Yeah. You can always tell a small business owner when you asked them, how do you generate leads? Like what’s your marketing looks like. And whenever someone answers word of mouth is like a 99% chance. That’s just, that’s like translates to, I don’t know. I’m not like I just have no idea. So whenever I asked them on just how you even leads word of mouth, that means I’m not sure it means they’re coming in. Right. You got busy, you know, people are coming, you know, you’re doing things and people coming, you just don’t know what things are making those people come and you can’t do, you can’t do more of them. Right. Because now you’re in this place where, Oh, okay. Like, which, you know, we’re doing five different things. Should we increase a, B or C? You know, which ones should we even increase? Where should we double down? So you kind of have to now spend money on all of these things because you don’t know which one’s actually driving the business. So yeah, that’s my task. Just ask someone, where are you getting leads? And if they say word of mouth, you know, okay. You’re not really sure I get it. Jennifer (11:29): It’s one of those issues that so many small business owners don’t know. And they’re not really sure exactly what it is that they’re doing in terms of all of their strategies. I mean, I, in my business, I show clients how they can even generate new opportunities without spending money on marketing and advertising, which is something that so many people like by second wife and yeah, it’s true because there are strategies like joint ventures. You really don’t need to spend money for a joint venture strategy that drives business to you. Think about who else your target client is working with. And then find those people create a relationship with them. And then, Hey, guess what? You have people coming in and both sides you’re cross referring. And then if you go down the food chain, who else is involved in the event chain for what somebody is dealing with, right? If you take an example of a a floor, right? And you look at the bridal market, you can immediately get in there. And then you can say, let’s partner with the jeweler was partnering with the DJ, the photographer, the wedding hall, et cetera. And there’s even more. So it’s a ton of value that people can get just by paying attention to the right things and stop wasting in the wrong places. Charles (12:49): Yeah. There’s actually a book. And it’s not the book everyone knows is traction. No one ever knows about this. Another one. Yeah, by Gabriel Weinberg is super good. It actually talks about hair or the different traction channels. So this traction that you S one and one’s more popular, there’s another one with distraction channels and I’ll link to it in the show notes, but it shows here are the different ways your business can just generate leads like hair or just the top. I don’t know how many different channels they have, but there’s a bunch and it’s all stuff like you’re saying like joint ventures stuff. You might not think about that may or may not actually even cost anything. So I think that’s helpful just to kind of use that as just a thought experiment to kind of run through what are some channels. Maybe SEO is one of them, but there could also be, like you said, ones that don’t require any sort of funding and just hard work. So, Jennifer (13:37): Oh, absolutely. My book also is the bottom line that matters quick tips and strategies you can use right now to grow your business in the next 12 months, those through eight strategies to offer exactly those points in joint ventures. One of those strategies in the book, Charles (13:53): Okay. We’ll drop a link to that. All right. What is strategy number two? Jennifer (13:58): So strategy number two is looking at your shipping programs, right? Especially during certain times in a year, free shipping is expected, but what do you do to encourage people to during the rest of the year, go for that free shipping level instead of having a paid for shipping, right? You can use shipping to your benefit where it’s really going to make a tremendous difference in terms of your business. Think about it. From this perspective, a lot of businesses have increased their minimums to get free shipping. You have to spend $25, one to $34. Once a $39 went to $49, went to $79 to $99, different ways that you can increase the value of the cart that somebody’s going to want to go with. If you partner with another company and you’re both sharing again, this is going back to joint venture. You’re both selling something to this client individually, or you are combining your efforts to reach this person. They can buy that $99 cart. You both benefit and guess what their purchase habits changed to now be used to buying from you $99. Now $29. Think about that for a second. If I’m getting 70% more in revenue, that is a ton of opportunity that you have, that you can be looking at as you move forward in terms of where you are. Charles (15:39): Yeah. I th I don’t think people I think people do underestimate that average car that ever check the value of his car value. Just increasing that. Yeah. Not even 70% and increasing that 10% that goes right to the bottom line is like that number. And this is like 10% on your top line, right? So this is a big number, just like any increase you can do that has this huge return. And yeah. So anything like free shipping, anything you can do, just like whatever your average check of value is now average cart value, whatever you can do to just get that higher. It’s a win. It’s a big one. And usually like you’re saying these ways are things that cost you very little. They’re just kind of a little bump things that, you know shipping might be, if you kind of calculate out, it might be very little an actual cost, but huge. And what it can do for you. Jennifer (16:31): Absolutely. Charles (16:33): Yeah. Okay. I like that one. Cool. What is strategy three? Jennifer (16:38): So our third strategy is looking at your actual costs. So many businesses think, Oh, Hey I have a credit card account. Congratulations. You have a credit card processing count. If I’m selling, I probably have a merchant account, but here’s the thing that a lot of people don’t know if you’re selling business to business, are you using, what’s called level two data in your business? Now, a lot of you are probably wondering, like, what the heck is level two data? What is she talking about? Level two data is additional information that gets passed along with the transaction. And your processor has to allow that to go through. It’s not buying default. And a lot of processors don’t even know, or the salespeople don’t even know about this when you speak with them because they are new in the industry, or they’re not interested in helping you save because they make more money. Jennifer (17:34): What you want to know of is you want to know, I can pass along the invoice number, the tax information, the customer information, and what exactly is in the cart. And that information goes on the credit card statement to the, that made the purchase from you. If you think about it, the business, how do the finance office doesn’t know what all of his people are spending on? He gets the bill at the end of the month, and he has to make the checkout to American express Citibank, whoever the credit card is issued by. But because he doesn’t know who everything is, what all the transactions are. He may dispute some of them. But if you show all of the transactional data, that’s there, now he knows upfront more of what is there. So you’re reducing the likelihood that he may be disputing that payment. And you can save as much as half of 1% 50 basis points. Jennifer (18:34): Now, if you have a $100 order, it’s not a lot, I’ll be real, right. But how many, $100 purchases are you making over the course, or $100 sales are you making over the course of a month, over the course of a year where those 50 cents start really adding up, right? If you’re selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of these transactions, that is a huge amount of money that you can be putting right back into your revenue, because you’re no longer paying it out. You just have to know exactly how to make that work for you. Charles (19:12): Today’s episode is sponsored by drip, drip it’s of world’s first e-commerce CRM, and the tool that I personally use for email marketing and automation. Now, if you’re ever run an e-commerce store, you need to have drip to try. And here’s why drip offers one-click integrations for both Shopify and Magento. There’s robust segmentation, personalization, and revenue dashboards. To give you an overview of how your automation emails are performing. One of my favorite features of drip is the visual workflow builder. It gives you a super easy way to build out your automation world visually and see the entire process. It lets you get started quickly, but also build very complex automation roles. It’s powerful, but also easy to learn. Unlike a lot of email tools that offer the same type of automation to get a demo of drip today, you can go head over to drip.com/boe. That’s drip.com/b O E. Charles (20:00): Now onto the show. Is that something you can do in like a Shopify big commerce easily? I’ve never, I know you have, you hit these calls all the time, where somebody, you put your business name on the statement and you got a call from someone in finance, some company, and they go, did someone buy something from you? Like they have no idea who you are. You don’t know who they are. It’s like just two people that don’t know. You don’t know the other one and just kind of talk. And you’re like, I don’t know. Like, do you like in whatever product? And like, I don’t know. And you both just have this like odd conversation. So like how easily it is to cause like, and we’ve all done that call. Cause like no one even knows why they’re calling or like, and you’re just trying to figure it out. And yeah, there’s probably that percent right. That just, they see it instead of calling or maybe they call and they just don’t recognize the name of the company. They just literally dispute. And as we know, you lose most of those, right? Like most of the time you have to lose them or they’re just a pain to fight. So like yeah, having, having that data though, how do you do that? Technically? Is that something that’s easy and Shopify big commerce? Jennifer (21:03): So the answer to your question is it’s not something that Shopify would be doing itself. It is something that the processor that you’re working with has to a allow on your account and be the gateway or the virtual terminal that you use to have the ability to pass that information. And then Shopify or whatever kind of shopping are you using has to pass that to the gateway so that it gets sent along with the transaction. Got it. So as long as you’ve got that going through, you can make that happen. And with our payment processing solutions that we offer, we make sure that that’s upfront. We say that that’s fair and there’s discounts offers for if you’re business to government. There’s other discounts that are there as well, level three data once again, offer discounts to, Charles (21:55): Okay, so you call this level two data. So that’s interesting Jennifer (21:59): Too, in level three data Charles (22:00): In level three data, and it’s essentially putting just what was in the card, but they use a purchased on the credit card statement, like an itemized list. Jennifer (22:09): It’s the invoice information. So the customer number, the tax information, a total transaction amount, which is already going through anyway, it’s customer data. You know, so if it’s Charlie one, two, three is the customer code that goes with it or a PO goes with it. So that has to get passed along. And there’s transactional information like that, that when it does get passed, everything else can get cut in terms of the information, because that information is being passed along. And again, your processor will tell you specifics to their system, if there’s other items that they need. But traditionally that is what is needed. Charles (22:54): Okay. That’s a good, that’s a good one. You don’t hear that one very often. All right. What is number four? I like that. Jennifer (22:59): So this is a big one for those of you that are doing Shopify shopping cards. And I don’t know how many of you have seen this before, because it’s really relatively uncommon. And it’s a technology that we have that allows us to create what’s called hotspot videos. Think about if you were doing a video and you were in a department store and you were going around the shoe department, as an example, you can in the video, have a hexagon shape, pop up over a specific pair of shoes. Let’s say that I, a pair of Jimmy Choos or Christian Louis Vuitton, right? I can put that hexagon all shape right on the Louis Vuitton shoes. And if I put my mouse over it, as I’m watching the video, I’m curious, what is the shape? I’d put my mouse over. It opens up a popup on the video and it says, add to cart. I can shop directly through this video. Think about what you’re doing. We know video sells much more than text. We know photos sell more than text. Video sells more than photos. How many more clients and sales can you get? If you properly are showing exactly what you’re doing to get that hotspot video, right? If you can make that work for you, think about how many more business, how much more business you can do. Charles (24:43): And is this something like a I’m picturing like home decor, right? Where you’re like, Hey, we like renovated this house and it’s a video and you do a blog or something. Some piece of content on somebody walking through his house, they renovated. And there’s like, you know, the little thing on the dining room table and like, Oh, you can buy that. And like, you know, the comforter in the bed and you can buy like, is it like that sort of thing where, okay, so you use it for content. And basically it is content on like his, we did for this house and asked the person’s walking through, explaining it. There’s just like, here are the things, 10 things, and it just takes you out of a, does it take you to Jennifer (25:14): The checkout page items? Charles (25:16): Does it take you right to the checkout page or how people using these Jennifer (25:19): Take you to the checkout page? It says, add to cart. Okay. And then you could eventually have that move straight into the checkout. Charles (25:27): So like one of those, I’m basically picturing one of those you know, when you’re talking on YouTube and you kind of point and you put the video right there and they click on and go to the next video, it’s that, but for commerce essentially, right? When you click over half a million, like it just pops you over there. Jennifer (25:40): Absolutely. And it’s a great tool that so many people have found extremely helpful and adding more. Charles (25:48): Yeah. Tell me something. If you’re doing some sort of content play for the right business, you can use that in a very very tactical way, right on driving. Like top of the funnel, here’s a video, here’s some, you know, here’s the latest fall coats, right? And you can show someone trying on like five different coats and each one can have, Hey, click here. And kind of like you do throw the platform and you do it through Instagram. Now you can do it through all these other platforms. But having that, it sounds like for your size, right? So something you can host, Jennifer (26:14): You host it yourself and you have it go straight into your system. It’s not having to use other systems that works extremely well with Shopify. Charles (26:23): Yeah. You can see that any sort of content actually being kind of a neat thing. I didn’t know. That was, I didn’t know. That was a thing. All right. What is Jennifer (26:30): BGSA marketing.com. That’s where you can see it. Charles (26:34): BGSA we’re going to link to dash. All right. What is number five? Keep count. Jennifer (26:40): Absolutely. So as using kiosks apps in your business, so again, it’s going back to that avatar that we spoke about who are they, where are they and how are these going to be used if you think about it? A lot of us are ordering tremendous amounts right now. Online. I may have an app. I may one food. I may want product. I may own service, and I want to order it through my phone. Or if I’m in store, I may need to order it through a kiosk that I don’t necessarily have to speak with someone individually, but there can be an order kiosk because I just didn’t see it in the store. How are you going to do that? To still increase your sale and increase what your opportunities are? It doesn’t cost that much to get an app created, but think about the loss business. If you don’t have one on mobile app proactive Charles (27:45): Or even a kiosk, and the kiosk could literally just open to a webpage on your site, right? Like exactly, Jennifer (27:51): You got it. Exactly. It doesn’t have to go any farther than that is just, let’s bring it so that we can allow people to have the most opportunities to buy from us. What we need to do is we need to teach our clients how to give us money. We need to make it stupid, easy to get that. If we can do that, people are going to want to keep buying from us. And they’re not going to want to go to our competition because they’re going to see the value right then and there without having to go and say, well, I can do this. I can do that at any different store because I’m making it really easy for them to find everything that they’re looking for. And again, joint ventures really comes in handy because if you can partner up what goes along with this, think about for a second, we all buy on Amazon. Jennifer (28:43): Amazon is great telling me, you may also want this. Apple is great at the upsell, right? As not just a cross selling. Okay. I bought the iPhone, give me also the AirPods. So that way I’ve got that, they upsell me the Apple care, right? They’re upselling me into a higher space, higher memory on the phone, a bigger screen. What can you do to do that? But sometimes though your products are not necessarily going to immediately allow for that. But what if you are selling jewelry, can you also sell flowers? Can you also sell chocolate? If that’s not something you can do in your store, you can sell, have that in your app. And immediately, like I mentioned before, partner with another organization, I can fulfill that order. The jewelry goes with the chocolate, goes with the flowers for Valentine’s day, mother’s, day, birthdays, whatever, and boom, you’ve got it right there. And it’s another way that you can use your app and your kiosk to get opportunities, to get even more business. Charles (29:55): Yeah. I’m seeing a lot in this year in particular, right, where there’s a lot of 20, 20, we’re talking the year of COVID brick and mortar retailers are going online, right. And having this thing where I have a shop it’s, you know how many square feet you can offer X number of products, but then as soon as you go online, you can basically go to that same, you know, four or five distributors have been working with for years and take their entire product catalog of a hundred thousand products and easily just add that online. And that’s something you could never do in the store. And I think what a lot of folks are doing is, Oh, you can’t find in the store, here’s our website, that sort of thing. But I like the idea of just having like almost a terminal in the store it’s cheap. Charles (30:33): It’s easy to do. It’s basically just hooked up to your site and kind of like leading people right there on, Oh, you know, you have this like obscure part that you need. Great. Let’s just go over here and type it on the kiosk. Oh, you can look it up our site. Let’s put the, your shipping address in here. It ships right to your house easy. So you can basically set it up that, you know, you’re using your website to sell products from your distributor, right. That you’re and otherwise people are just gonna be giving the URL and someone’s gonna go to Google type it, maybe find it somewhere else cheaper. But having it right there in the store, kind of just funnels people into using us. Right. Jennifer (31:08): And that’s one of the things you want to be the destination. If you allow some other platform to be the destination, whether it is Google or anyone you’re giving potential business to everybody else. And what happens if Google decides to ban me, right? We know Google penalizes people all the time, right? All your site isn’t loading quick enough, right? The speeds of for, or the time to first bite is too long, whatever it is that Google’s latest algorithm is going to be. When you’re listening to this program, we know that those exist. So think about what you can do to minimize those issues. If you can keep them directly on your site, the only thing you honestly control, you are going to be in a much better position. Don’t let it go to any other platform because at least there you own it and it’s yours. Charles (32:07): Yep. I like that. Yeah. I was in home Depot the other day. Actually I need some obscure, like pegged for my kitchen cabinets. I need it like a very particular size, like some I’m certain aisles. And there, I ended up searching the home Depot app and found out they don’t offer the five millimeter. They only have a seven. So I ended up literally in home Depot, just Googling. It, found the top link on Amazon, bought it from some random third party seller. So they lost a sale while I was actually standing in the store in the aisle, in front of the package, just because they don’t have it listed on the app. They didn’t have it on the site and ended up literally clicking on the first we have Google and I need this. I don’t know what it is like Amazon. Great. Third party seller sells on prime. Great. Sure. Whatever. Let’s go. So I was, I drove my car there just to find out, I’ll just buy it online. So I, yeah. That’s exactly my point. Yep. Yeah. I like that. All right. Yeah. Well, I’m still waiting for those texts to come in the mail, but hopefully today, what do we fr number six, Jennifer (33:09): Number six is how we use our email marketing. And this is really whether you’re online, offline, doesn’t matter. Again, everything is the same as what lead magnet or attraction marketing device are you using to drive people to you? You can use giveaways, you can use social hashtags, you can use other promotions and incentives to drive people your way, but you want to make sure that in your email marketing, you’re doing all that you can to make sure everything is going to make sense to ultimately deliver for you. The other thing also is if you’re not currently doing this, what is your abandoned cart sequence look like? And how do you create that? If you’re not currently doing it, a lot of people have gotten used to in today’s market. If I see something on a website, I’m going to put it in my cart. As long as I’m logged in, I’m going to put it in my cart and I’m going to leave. Jennifer (34:07): And some point overnight, the magical fairies at work are going to send me a message saying, Hey Jennifer, we realized you didn’t buy X or you’ve got something in your cart. It looks like you forgot something. Here’s 10%, right. Consumers have become so used to this that if you don’t do it, you’re hurting yourself because they’re going to never again, come back because they expected that. Right? The other thing also is sometimes though they may have thought they did it and something may have happened. And if your billing system processed the charge, but a sit all day and actually go through that’s what’s going to happen is they’re going to call it their credit card company and dispute it because I never got the widget that I ordered. So by having this abandoned cart sequence, you can actually stop the transaction, make sure the clients sees, Oh, I mean complete the transaction. Jennifer (35:10): For some reason, I can address that on the customer service side, make sure that everything gets worked out and then I don’t have to worry about that. So there’s a whole lot of different things that, that abandoned cart sequence can do for you. But if you’re not using it, start using it, figure out what you need to do, what technology do you need. And I’m sure if those of you that are listening don’t know, I’m sure Charles can definitely guide you in terms some apps or systems or what have you to make sure that as you’re doing this, you’re going to have the right opportunities in your business to make sure that you’re not going to be missing any piece of the transaction. Charles (35:52): Yep. We’ve had some BeneCard interviews on hair in the past and it’s kind of like remark Bennett carts, remarketing. It’s like this, it, it can’t hurt. Right? Like it almost never hurts. It costs so little to implement. And it’s one of those, again, things you’re attracting the user. Anyway, you’re doing all the hard work. Why not just do that? That maybe a banner card bumps you 10%, maybe remarketing is tempered. Like all these things are like now a percent on top of that, but you did all the hard work. Anyway, you hide the customer, you did the SEO, the paid, you did all those other things. So why not just now increase your chance of conversion. And again, it’s kind of like increasing the average order value. You did it already. So now just capitalize on the hard work you already did. So Jennifer (36:34): Yeah, absolutely. And it’s not just, you know, if you got the SEO value, it’s someone clicked off an ad that I did. I paid ad. If I didn’t convert them, then I completely lose. I’d rather lose 10% and get 90% of what I wanted. Then lose 100% plus the cost of the ed. So if you’re not doing that abandoned cart, start thinking about how you need to do that. Charles (37:03): Yup. I like that. Yeah. Just leaving money on the table, Ben and God’s lead magnets. And if you can WL marketing, obviously just get their email address because you don’t have to pay for the remarketing. If you can’t get the email address, then you pay for the remarketing, but it’s basically just find ways to follow them around. Right. If you can remarket to them, great. If you can get their email even better, but just always kind of chasing them down. Yeah. I like that. Jennifer (37:26): Yeah. And that’s the issue also, as we’re talking about guest checkout or register checkout in terms of the process, what you can always do is you can create again in the email marketing, we’re talking about incentives, right? If you give the incentive to get somebody to register for your account, your site, as an account, and then have them logged in, right. If I’m giving 20% off first purchase, right. I’m getting them in with that 20% first purchase, but I’m getting them in. And then I now have them on my list and how many more transactions might they buy from me? Because they’re now in my list, especially if you have it the right way and your list you want to be looking at as relationship based as possible is how you can create that relationship. So the point where I get the email, I want to actually look at it. Jennifer (38:26): A lot of us probably get a whole bunch of marketing emails that they just go into our promotions tab in Gmail. We never even look at, but there’s one or two that we’re looking at every single one, because we want to know what they’re offering. That’s what’s most important because when you’re actually looking forward to receiving that email, you know, that there’s a pretty good chance. Ooh. As long as the right offer is in there, they’re going to come and they’re going to at least look now it’s my job to convert on the site. The email already did its job. So as long as everything else on the site makes sense. They’re going to buy that too. And that just increases your lifetime value for your client. Charles (39:07): I saw a really clever one this year, actually. So it’s a post base giving, right? So black Friday, small business, Saturday cyber Monday, right. We just kind of pass that. And I saw a retailer who, before, you know, if you’re and everyone does this kind of scope out the potential black Friday deals like a week before and they had one little pop-up saying enter email to get like this like special black Friday coupon. And we’re going to give it to you black Friday. So you enter the email way ahead of time. You get on the list and they’re already drumming up business for black Friday, cyber Monday. And then the thing is you want it that coupon. So you’re basically like sitting, waiting for that email to come. And as soon as you get it, you open it. I have the coupon, you’re going to go there. Charles (39:48): Now it’s only available for one day. It was a super clever use of, you know, Hey, now that getting people on the list, now you’re getting people to actually click on the email. So you’re really, and you’re like drumming up like interest and you can say, Hey, we’re going to push it all a special day. So enter it today into your email today to get a coupon at this point in the future. I thought that was super clever that yeah, not everyone. I haven’t seen that one before and maybe you can only do it on black Friday, right? Cause that’s the one of the few times where people are looking at a week ahead of time to buy whatever their holiday presents. But you know, maybe there’s a few other times a year where Hey, for your a father’s day gifts for your Ballantine, that sort of thing. You know, people are looking ahead of time for Valentine’s day. So drop a coupon in a week. We’re going to hit everyone with a, give you your mail in a weekend, get this coupon. So I thought that was a clever thing. I saw the share. Jennifer (40:36): Exactly. And you know, one thing though, that is worth mentioning, it doesn’t have to be specific to black Friday. Like you said, come up with your own holidays. Having a Sunday came up with prime day, right? I mean, prime day did not exist before Amazon decided we need a sale in July for something. Right. So we’re going to make this prime day and guess who followed suit target Walmart? Because they realized we can’t let Amazon take all the sales. So target Walmart and a couple other larger retailers, one along because Amazon created that holiday. If you have a list or even if you’re just putting marketing out there and you say, listen on January 15th, right? We just got through new year’s, we’d got through the holidays, we need a figuring out how to deal with the rest of the holiday. Right? So we’re calling it the sober day. Jennifer (41:38): I think I might take that. So I, I create this sober day and I offer so many deals on sober day because now I’m really looking or goal day because I’m really looking at my goals for the year. And I want to make sure that I keep them so I can offer as many planners and goal oriented programs toward that holiday that I can start creating. And I can just push that out all over the place and starting in December, I can already start offering that and say, Hey, listen, January 15th, we’re going to be offering this on gold day or sober day. And it’s going to be an opportunity for you to get in, enter your email and we’ll let you know and give you the special coupon. That’s going to get you X percent off any of the purchases. That’s an incredible opportunity. So you can create your own thing and it doesn’t have to be on this scale of prime day, as long as you are going out there with that opportunity. Yep. Charles (42:42): Yeah, it does. And like you said, it doesn’t have to, I think people think I’m not Amazon, you know, I can’t do that, but eventually you have a list, right? Like you’re going to have a thousand, 10,050, however many people on your list and what you can create your own mini holiday using that list. Right? So that is the power of email marketing. And that’s based what Amazon did. They had their list if following and they obviously flyers out, they leveraged that you can do the same as a small business. It’s definitely not out of reach. So Jennifer (43:11): Cool. Charles (43:12): What is number seven? We’re doing good on time here too. Actually thought we weren’t gonna make it, but seven things. That’s pretty good. Yeah. I like it. Jennifer (43:22): Our seven strategy is omni-channel marketing. And for those of you that have not heard of omni-channel marketing, it’s being as many platforms as you can. So that means it’s obviously your website has luckily on Amazon, it’s looking at eBay, it’s looking at overstock oversight, looking at Walmart Groupon and so on and so forth. There’s a lot of different places that you can be that you really want to make sure that you are offering all of the opportunities that you can. So that way, no matter where somebody is, there’s an opportunity they’re buying from you. Now there’s a difference. How do I get into the buy now button on Amazon Walmart marketplace, whatever it is in terms of getting there. And Charmaz, I’m sure you’ve got the relationships to help people there as well, where people can reach out to you. Hey Charles, listen, I really want to learn more about this. Jennifer (44:14): How do I do it? And really have those solutions to make sure I can get the buy now option. And if you’re not even selling your own products, there are programs out there where you can find what is the hottest items people are. You can get that, send it into Amazon, send them into Walmart to be fulfilled by them. And then you don’t have to worry about the fulfillment even, and you just, as long as you’re willing to go up to X dollars on the seller, down to X dollars on the sale, rather you can just immediately put that in and then you can sell through your entire inventory and make that profit. That’s pretty good. Charles (44:56): It’s funny. The previous interview that was, I interviewed a seller that, that he went from just recently Xero to, I think, doing around 200,000 and uses a couple apps. Just that exact strategy you just found products are already selling. And he talks about the whole thing, what he did and started just kind of finding them, buying them, send FBA. And now we’re just doing, it was just rinse and repeating sort of thing. So this is a, that is a model it’s. So you don’t need to like create your own PR. You don’t need to do any of this stuff if, you know, if that’s just not your wheelhouse, you can just find stuff. And, yeah. So this is one 52. If you check out one episode, one 51 literally talks about how he walked through that step-by-step, which is pretty neat. Jennifer (45:36): Yeah. And if you need any more ideas, Shopify has amazing blog posts, all on items that are currently selling really hot on Shopify platforms. Yep. Charles (45:47): We’ll link to that as well. So that’s a Shopify blog post is nice. Okay. Yeah. I think usually I think folks are thinking they’re gonna, I mean, there’s two ways to do it, right? You can either create, demand or find a man and go where that is. Right. And two very different strategies. And I think if you create demand, right, that’s one thing where it’s gonna be this blue ocean. No one else is doing it. No one was doing it before you and you just, you you’re the inventor and you did this, but sometimes it’s a tough road going the other way of, Hey, here’s what demand is, is like the river’s already flowing. I just need to like step inside. And I’m already like getting pulled along the current often. That’s a lot easier, right. Of just finding where demand is, finding what demand is already. Charles (46:31): And it’s a huge business and you’re just going in there taking a fraction of a percent, but it’s there and it’s already, you’re just dipping your toe in the water and the water is already there. So I think people underestimate that. It’s a lot easier to generalist that, that way. So, absolutely nice. All right. Well, I’m gonna link to that blog post if we can find that, but yeah. Omni channel, I think it’s funny. It’s one of those times it kind of comes and goes, and I think it was popular a few years ago, but it’s still like, and then Amazon became so vague, but now it’s almost a Renaissance where everyone’s going out in the marketplace now, Walmart new way, like there’s all these other ones. And it’s almost become, it’s almost become popular again so that it’s having its omni-channel Renaissance right now in 2020 NFL. Like nice. All right. If people want to kind of check these out, if there’s something you kind of list on a blog post somewhere or Jennifer (47:26): The various strategies. Yes. And I haven’t actually done the blog post for that yet, but it’s going to have to be done and we’ll get the link there for it. Yeah. Charles (47:39): All right. Let’s do it. People will kind of want to check out what else. So you mentioned you have a book. I actually it’s did I get this right? It’s the bottom line that matters quick tips and strategies you can use right now to grow your business in the next 12 months. I found it on Amazon where we’re talking, but yeah. Okay. I’m going to drop a link to that. What else are you working on? Jennifer (47:59): So I am always working on helping clients grow their business and it’s through our payment processing business, our marketing business, our coaching business as ideally built out or not ideally, but it’s built out to help the clients get their ideal business. Where do they want to be? What do they want to do? And how do they want to get there? What we do is we try and make sure that people are not leaving money on the table. How do they get all the money that they want to get there? And that’s what we do to help them. Charles (48:38): And is this through like a coaching sort of arrangement, like a one-on-one type of thing. Jennifer (48:41): So it’s a coaching business, but everything is based on what somebody needs. So could be one-on-one coaching group, coaching hybrid, do it yourself. All different kinds of programs. And it’s, like I said, it’s teaching people what they need to do to work with me. And that’s where we are. And you know, it’s, even if you guys need to know how to improve LinkedIn, that’s another major area that we work with as well. Charles (49:14): All right. And what, what would be the best place to, I know there’s a couple of links here, but what’s the best one to kind of check you out. Jennifer (49:21): Check me email@example.com or on LinkedIn, under Jennifer R. Glass. Charles (49:29): Okay. We will put those first. Cool. All right. Appreciate everything, Jennifer. And when you get that blog post, let me know. Cause we’ll add a link to that as well. So, absolutely. Well, awesome. Thanks for coming on. Jennifer (49:40): Thank you.
41 minutes | Dec 9, 2020
The Journey from $0 to $200k per Year Selling on Amazon (E151)
Anatoly SpektoreCommerce Entrepreneur Notes: Started 3 years agoSelling 200k yearJungle Scout and Helium10Spent 10k on the first order buying Green BinocularsPickFu Sponsors: Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code!Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software Links: https://www10millionjourney.comhttps://www.instagram.com/anatolyspektor/https://www.instagram.com/10millionjourney/ Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the business. E-Commerce I talk with Anatoly specter about his journey from zero to $200,000 a year, selling on Amazon. This is a business of e-commerce episode, 151. [inaudible] Welcome to the business of e-commerce the show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow their e-commerce business. I'm your host [inaudible] and I'm here today with Anatoly specter, and it totally is a serial entrepreneur, six figure, Amazon seller, an it consultant, and the host of the 10 million journey podcast, where he shows his experiences scaling his Amazon business from 200 K to $10 million a year. And this episode, and totally gets really into some numbers on his business, which I think is super helpful. He does into when he started, how much it cost, some initial product runs, how much he's making today and where he's hoping to go and how he's hoping to get there. Charles (01:02): He's super transparent, which I think is very helpful when you're listening and taking advice, because a lot of it is contextual. If someone is giving you advice, you kind of need to know, is this advice for a new seller or someone doing a million a year? He kind of gives exactly what advice you would do at what step and what he has done. And I think it's super helpful. So let's get into the show and follow along right to the end where he gives some real helpful tips to both new sellers and also folks scaling the Amazon business. So Hey until you, how are you doing today? Amazing. How are you doing good. Awesome. To have you on the show. Your journey is super interesting. I've been doing some research about it and just kind of looking at talk about some of the numbers. So as far as an Amazon seller, and we're talking before the show and just kind of getting into some of those numbers, I think it's going to be super addressed in a kind of go into so real quick, you're an Amazon seller, right? That's kind of, that's your main focus? I mean, Anatoly (02:05): I like to call myself online through preneur and Amazon is the way I make sale these days. But yeah most of my revenue comes from Amazon Charles (02:14): And you're currently in you kind of, so you have a podcast and you talk publicly about the number is where you're at. Right? So that's yeah, Anatoly (02:20): Yeah, yeah. I created a podcast to sort of document my journey, how I scaled my business to $10 million. And I'm still in the process right now in the beginning, about 200,000. And I'm moving to a million who have charged me for that and then 10 million. So they'll come in to everything. I pick up brain. So other preneurs who are several steps ahead, or some of them multimillion dollars hundred million dollars businesses. And I just talk to them and pick up their brains to help me out and off. My last question is always, what can you give me as an advice I'm read here is how much you're making is what I'm doing. Tell me, and then they give me advice. So you're lucky. I'm pretty lucky first. Charles (02:55): Nice. yeah, it's a dual purpose podcast and you're helping other people, but getting advice. So I love that you aren't, so you're a 200,000 a year right now. And most of us like 90 plus percent is Amazon product sales, right? Anatoly (03:09): Yeah. Yeah. We do have a Shopify store, but it's like minimal because we were focused just on Amazon these days. Charles (03:15): How long did it take you to get there so far? Anatoly (03:19): So it was hit or miss.
43 minutes | Dec 2, 2020
Using Pinterest to Increase eCommerce Sales (E150)
Alisa MeredithPinterest Product Specialist At Tailwind Sponsors: Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code!Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software Notes: 2x3 ratio for photoThe title does the hard workText on the image is important#3 search engineBoard - Relevant title & descriptionMatch Product Categories from the shopping cartFind other ways to appeal to peopleNot about the followers, more about engagementUse Audience InsightsSecret Boards - Be Consistent97% of searches are unbrandedhttps://trends.pintrest.com - What's trendingStory PinConsumed on PinterestNo link to the websiteIn beta, must Applyhttp://pintrest.com/source Links: https://tailwindapp.comhttps://www.instagram.com/tailwindapp/https://www.instagram.com/alisammeredithhttps://www.twitter.com/alisammeredith Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the business of eCommerce. I talk with Alisa Meredith about using Pinterest to increase e-commerce sales. This is the business e-commerce episode 150. [inaudible] Welcome to the business. E-Commerce the show. It helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow their e-commerce business. I'm your host, Charles [inaudible] and I'm here today with Alisa Meredith. Elisa is the Pinterest product specialist and marketing manager at tailwind. She's a speaker and teacher of topics, Pinterest marketing and Pinterest ads. On this interview, we go really deep into using Pinterest to generate more traffic and orders for our e-commerce business. She has a ton of insights that I didn't know about Pinterest, who are super interesting. You'll see me during the interview, taking a lot of notes. A lot of these topics are things that were very new to me. She gets into a lot of new things as well on how to find new topics. Charles (01:03): So you can create new boards, almost like Pinterest SEL, which I didn't know, something you could do. Also some new features like story pins, she talks about and re and really some Pinterest for different retailers that were very surprising on who can actually use Pinterest. She reframes it in a very different way that I think a lot of people would find helpful. So let's go into the show and if you like it, we have a like subscribe and hopefully this helps you. Thanks. So, Hey Alyssa, how are you doing today? I'm doing great. How about yourself? Doing good? I love it. I love the topic. We haven't talked about this actually ever. I mean right now, like, you know, you hear Instagram all the time, Facebook, but you don't hear Pinterest coming up as much. And I think it lends itself though, to certain types of products I think are really like the per, like the Pinterest products. So first when you say kind of Pinterest, is it Pinterest marketing, would you call it a Pinterest? Like how would you even describe using Pinterest? Alisa (02:07): Totally Pinterest marketing. So just like Instagram marketing, Facebook marketing, any other kinds of marketing, it's, it's a different beast. But has some of the similar benefits and this year has been as you know, unusual Charles (02:23): To say the least. Yeah, exactly. Alisa (02:26): But it has been really reflected in Pinterest and the way that people are using it. So for example they're up to 442 million monthly active users, which is up 20% in just six months, which is enormous for them. Yeah. And the number of people buying. So the conversions on Pinterest are, are up three X since the start of the year. So there's a tremendous potential for sales growth from Pinterest. And so I'm excited to talk about it. Charles (02:58): So you'll saying the number of people buying, when you say buying, are they people buying them on Pinterest or is it, are you tracking people that came from Pinterest and bought directly on like the shopping cart side? Right. It's Alisa (03:11): From Pinterest to your site? Yep. Okay. Charles (03:14): So a attribution.
40 minutes | Nov 24, 2020
Proven Strategies to Increase Revenue Using Email Marketing (E149)
Adam PearceCo-founder and CEO of Blend Commerce Sponsors: Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code!Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software Notes: Ask how they want to engage.Benchmark - Open Rate 30-40%Shop Quiz Links: https://blendcommerce.com/https://www.facebook.com/BlendCommercehttps://www.linkedin.com/in/adampearceblendcommerce/ Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the Business of eCommerce I talked with Adam Pearce about proven strategies to increase revenue using email. This is a business e-commerce episode, 149. Welcome to the business. E-Commerce the show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow their e-commerce business. I'm your host, Charles Palleschi and I'm here today with Adam Pearce. Adam is a co-founder and CEO of blend commerce, a Shopify agency, specializing in growth of six figure brands. Adam is a passionate advocate of email marketing and aims to make blend commerce. The world's most supportive agency, and this interview had him give some very interesting strategies on what's working with email marketing today. He helps talk about how to blend some of these strategies that, you know, it's been around for a while with some new tactics and build something that's kind of best of both worlds, right? Where you're not just emailing the same old five five sequence emails until you get a response. Charles (01:08): He saw my blending SMS messenger, a lot of new, a lot of new technologies with email to get the best results. And I think that's really powerful. One of the things that I haven't gets into is quizzes, and how to use that, to get to know your customer, to collect more data and how to offer them products that really fit their needs. This is a great strategy that I see retailers using now. I think it's super powerful. So let's get on the show and let's see what Adam has to say. So head on how are you doing today? Yeah, really good. Yeah. Awesome. To have you on the show, email marketing, just kind of grow through email. I think I've done SU I do similar episodes like this, like once a quarter and you keep seeing it come back up on like email's dead and this isn't working anymore. And then you do an episode and you dig into it and it's, it's almost like we've been talking about the same thing for years on like emails, definitely dead this, this quarter of this year. And it turns out it might not be happening. So is it dead this quarter? Adam (02:09): Good question. Well, look, the answer for me 100% is no, it's not dead, nothing, you know, for me, if anything, it's just evolving. And I think one, the important things that the email is that especially the past 12 months with obviously what's been happening in the world the way the email's been used with other channels as become a lot more important. So the likes of SMS, the likes of messenger using things like quizzes to pull any email addresses. So, you know, for me, and, and kind of looking around at the people that I work with, the clients I worked with, you know, clients are generating 30, 40, 50% of the revenue from email. So yeah, 100% email is not dead. Charles (02:47): Yeah. I think that's how it's changing as the interesting part. Right. Because we all still get email, it must be working. There's something going on here. And I know from lists, we have like, that's still one of our channels. And I'm curious though, so you say SMS messenger, like how are those things kind of plugging into it now? Yeah. Adam (03:08): So, I mean, with, with email, I think, you know, the great thing is that you've got, you know, you've got people like Play-Doh, for example, who now have email and SMS in one platform and equally you've got other people are SMS, but you can equally, you know, kind of use SMS and email very easily together. And I think what's definitely changed with those is that rather than kind of looking at them as distinct different channels now people l...
38 minutes | Nov 19, 2020
Why Would Someone Buy my Product Over the Competition (E148)
Seth KniepCo-Founder & CEO of Just One Dime Sponsors: Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code!Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software Bio: With 9.6 million views on YouTube and 226,000 subscribers, Seth Kniep and his company, Just One Dime, have been featured on Yahoo Finance and Chicago Weekly. Today, they have members in over 150 countries and manage over $100 million in annual revenue for Amazon stores. Links: https://justonedime.com/https://www.linkedin.com/in/sethkniep/https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8Sh9yuLqlpnQdBdcfwFErA/featuredhttps://www.instagram.com/justonedime/https://www.facebook.com/groups/jod.amazon.warriors/https://twitter.com/justonedime/ Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the business. E-Commerce I talked with Seth Kenep about why would someone buy your product over the competition? This is a business be commerce episode 148. [inaudible] Welcome to the business. E-Commerce the show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow their eCommerce business. I'm your host, Chelsea Leschi. And I'm here today with Tesco leap. Seth is a CEO and co-founder of just one dime where they help retailers launch and grow Amazon businesses. They have members in over 150 countries and they manage over a hundred million in annual revenue on Amazon stores set this clearly an Amazon expert. Very good at launching products, knows how to really kind of get into Amazon and promote not just a product, but grow a brand. So I asked him on the show today on how you can show off your product and differentiate it from the competition. And we, we go into why someone would buy your product versus a competing product that looks just like it on Amazon. And this is something that I think a lot of retailers struggle with. So this is super good show. If you're thinking of getting to Amazon, you struggle on Amazon stuff has some great tips. So let's get into the show. Hey Seth, how are you doing today? Good. Seth (01:19): Thanks for having me on Charles. I appreciate it. Yeah. Awesome Charles (01:22): To have you on. I love talking this kind of conversation about how to actually get people to buy your products. Right? This, we were talking before the show and you know, years ago you were the only game in town, right? Where if you were selling this online, it was kind of a unique thing and okay, I sell this type of coffee and I'll this, whatever, right. Are you going to Amazon 10, you know, Shopify? And there's a hundred of the folks on a very similar ish product. Very true. So to get into it. So you work with a lot of Amazon sellers, right? Through them, through the business. How do you make your listing? How do you recommend your clients listening to actually stand out from everyone else? That's selling something like that online. Seth (02:06): I love how you cut straight to the heart of it. Cause it's, it's so good. Thank you. So what you do is your photos or 3d renders for your listing need to be showing the value of the product, not just, Oh, mine's a great photo, but the differentiation you did with the product. In other words, if I am selling a microphone, but this microphone's a wireless microphone, it has an internal battery. My battery lasts three times longer than the competition. What does the photo demonstrate that? Or if it's a garden tool, does it demonstrate the photo that these handles on the gardens who are more comfortable? In other words, the photo needs to show what is better about my product. It can't just be, we have the best photos it has to be. How did I differentiate my product from the competition? What is the problem? Seth (02:55): I in solving a lot of people, Charles, they get overwhelmed. They think, well, wait, Amazon saturated. Because if I go search garden rake, there's 10 million garden rakes. Why would anyone buy a mine? Well, they're looking at the competition the wrong way. Instead. They need to say, okay,
36 minutes | Nov 11, 2020
Warehouse & Inventory Management (E147)
Kim WrenDirector of Business Development at SkuVault Sponsors: Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code!Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software Bio: Kim Wren is the Director of Business Development at SkuVault, a cloud-based Inventory & Warehouse Management System. With over 20 years of eCommerce experience, Kim has held many roles. She has done everything from multi-channel eCommerce seller herself to launching products and brands, to leading an award-winning customer service team. Kim currently works with partners, consultants, affiliates, and 3PL’s to assist in the growth of SkuVault. She has a passion for Small-Medium eCommerce businesses and is always available to answer questions & assist etailers to enrich their businesses. Links: http://www.skuvault.comhttps://www.linkedin.com/company/skuvaulthttps://www.instagram.com/skuvaulthttps://www.facebook.com/SkuVault/ Transcript: Charles (00:00): Welcome to the Business of eCommerce the show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow their e-commerce businesses. I'm here today with Kim Wren. Kim is a director of business development at SkuVault, a cloud-based inventory and warehouse management system. I've known him for a while. She's an expert in everything skew vault inventory lid, where I was managing unrelated. So I asked her in the show to talk about if you're a retailer and you're looking at setting up a warehouse, what are some do's? And don'ts, what are some things you should definitely be looking for? And just some random tips that can really help you in the initial setup and save you some time in the long run. So it's a super interesting show. I hope you guys enjoy it. Leave any comments, any likes, always appreciated, and we'll get onto the show and his interview with Kim. So again, how are you doing today? Kim (00:57): I'm great. How are you today, Charles? Doing good. Charles (01:00): Glad to have you on the show. It's Kim (01:02): Hi. I appreciate it. Thank you for giving me the time. Yeah. Charles (01:04): Yeah. Well, inventory management, I feel like there's something I haven't spoken about very much on the show. And from working directly with quite a few retailers, everyone kind of does it, but it's not, it's just not a topic you kind of see discussed very often and I'm not really sure maybe, cause it's not like, you know, there's like optimizing ads. There is the boring side of it, but it is what comes down and makes, you know, makes a lot of these businesses work. So it's just interesting that it's not something we duck into very often. It's kind of excited to get into the details. So director of business development, ski vault ski vault is a WMS right where I was managing system. Kim (01:44): We are we're WMS with IMS and WMS built together. We like to make sure that people understand we do both. But there's a lot of crossover in the industry. Everybody has their hands in inventory, some way shape or form. We just go really deep in the warehouse and do a lot in the warehouse as far as routing workers, making sure that people can find things and keeping your warehouse organized in addition to all of the inventory functions as well. Charles (02:09): Yeah. I think that's the thing when everyone kind of has the inventory management, right? Like everyone has a shop in Congress and it's inventory, but when you actually start talking about warehouse management, there's a whole different layer of that, right? Like the barcode scanner is, and like people moving around and like what pallet is in row 36. So all of that is like actually, you know, managing the warehouse. Right. That's what I stopped. Kim (02:31): Making sure that you're getting the people in the right place. Yes. Using the barcode scanners, making sure that you're picking the right item and the right quantity and getting it to the right station for shipping. So that you're, you know,
18 minutes | Oct 23, 2020
eCommerce Retargeting Strategies (E146)
Show Notes: Places to retarget: Facebook/InstagramGoogle DisplayGoogle Search Length to Retarget: 7 days to start Visitors to Retarget: Visitors no add to cart (last 7 days)Add to cart with no purchase (last 7 days)Initiate checkout with no purchase (last 7 days)Purchase (last 7 days) Content to retarget Visitors no add to cart - Product page or product videoAdd to cart with no purchase - Your purchase is waitingInitiate checkout with no purchase - Coupon with urgencyPurchase - Upsells/cross-sells & support Sponsors: Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code!Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of The Business of E-Commerce I talk about retargeting strategies for 2020. This is a business of e-commerce episode, 146. [inaudible] Welcome to the business. E-Commerce the show that helps e-commerce retailers start launch and grow the e-commerce business. I'm your host, Charles [inaudible] I'm here today to talk about retargeting strategies. This is a topic that I want you for a while and I've been building. So I wanted to dig into a four-part tale. I'll kind of lay them out different places to retarget the length to retire guest type of visitors, to retarget, and also the content you should use in your retargeting strategy. Also, just note, if you're watching the video currently moving the office right now. So excuse the background, it's a little different today and hopefully I'll be back and have a better set up pretty soon, but let's get started. I want to kind of jump into the first point here, different places to retarget. Charles (01:04): So first this is 2020, and currently there's several places where you want to run your retargeting ads and I'll list them in order of where I would start if I was running a new retargeting campaign today. So number one, Facebook, Instagram, it's kind of your social platform. It's the first one. I'd probably choose to start a retargeting campaign. And depending on what creative you use, it's very easy to post it also on Instagram. So that's probably the first place I would just get started with retargeting. Next up the Google display network, Google display is banners. That sort of thing, everything that's not searched, let's call it. That's the general other one. Normally I would not recommend the display network except for retargeting campaign. When you're getting started. The great part is you can spend far less per impression, still get your name out there. You'll still be in front of an audience, but you won't have to spend the same, you know, search CP social CPC display really just gets you a lot of impressions and a lot of brand awareness that you can use to kind of expand your reach. Charles (02:17): So that's always, probably the second place I would recommend to start. Third place is Google search, but search for retargeting, right? So you can, you can show search ads only to folks that have already been on your site. So that's the third place. Each one's a little more complicated, but what I do there is when you're setting up Google retargeting search ads, you'll add your audience. We'll get into this in a bit, but once you have your audience, you can also add in search terms. So if you're selling a particular product, you know, the audience has been to your site and you come up with some search terms that sound very familiar to, you know, that if someone is typing in these, they're thinking of your industry. So if you're selling life S you're a life vest retailer, someone's typing in terms about some nautical terms, terms of all boats in terms of the ocean, the tide fishing. Charles (03:13): That's when you want to show your life S every targeting. So you can really get inside their head. And, you know, if there anything having to do with boats, Marine, anything like that, that's when you want to fire those ads. So search is the other great option,
17 minutes | Oct 12, 2020
6 Tips for Selling on Marketplaces (E143)
Notes: Marketplace ExamplesAmazon https://sellercentral.amazon.com/eBay https://ebay.comWalmart https://supplier.walmart.com/Category SpecificGunBroker - https://www.gunbroker.com/Weapon Depot - https://www.weapondepot.com/ Marketplaces can be jet fuel, a fast way to scale or burn your business if you're not ready. Optimize the Product ListingToday quality wins over quantityNo more 'spray and pray'Spend time researching competitive pricingFactor in all the costsMonitor where you rank in the listingAmazon - Search results then Buy BoxeBay - Search resultsOver-invest in Customer ServiceSeller reviews are prominently displayedOn Amazon, slow customer service response times are used against youNail FulfillmentUse a 3PLNever ship late (closely monitored on Amazon)Follow the rules of the marketplace Sponsors: Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code!Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of The Businesso eCommerce I talk about tips for selling on marketplaces. This is the Business eCommerce Episode 145. Charles (00:18): Welcome to the Business of eCommerce. The show that helps eCommerce retailers start launch and grow the eCommerce business. I'm your host, Charles Palleschi. And I'm here today to talk about some of my tips for selling on marketplaces. So to start off marketplaces, I kind of think of them as jet fuel for any commerce seller, right? A lot of folks are selling on their own Shopify site, their own big commerce, their own Magento site somewhere. And at some point they decide to move their operations over to a marketplace to kind of add that as a way to enhance our augment, the current offering. And this can be done in many different ways. And I see a lot of sellers do this and the ones that do it right, can drastically increase the sales and the ones that kind of aren't ready for it have issues right out of the gate and can really cause actual problems for their business. Charles (01:11): So I want to outline a few tips on some do's and don'ts and just things that I've kind of found over time. So, first few marketplace examples. When we're saying marketplaces, we're talking some of the big ones, obviously Amazon, eBay, Walmart, that sort of thing. Also there's some specific marketplaces you'll find for different niches. So clothing has theirs, for instance, firearms, aren't allowed to be sold on some of the larger marketplaces, but there's folks like gun broker weapons, Depot, they have marketplaces just went bash. So even if you're selling a product that maybe can't be sold on Amazon, there usually are other places where it can be sold or just places, for instance, like clothing there's places where community sold better, right. Where folks are actually looking for that sort of product. So I'd always say first, do your research on what marketplaces are available. Charles (02:06): And don't just jump right to Amazon eBay, the big ones, because there are some specific ones that might actually get, you might be smaller, but might get better sales. So we'll sit out six steps here to kind of reveal things that I've just kind of found from talking to different sellers, different retailers that would be better off knowing from the beginning. So tip number one is be sure to optimize your product listings. The sound may sound obvious, but at the same time, what, I just hear a lot of new sellers saying first time they get on the platform, they always have these aspirations that they want to have 10,000 listing, a hundred thousand, these big 500,000, these big numbers, right? And this actually used to work this back in the day was actually a strategy that did work, right? You just went on Amazon. You just listed as much as you could. Charles (02:58): You did the spray and pray. And it worked actually just because there weren't that many of our listings and you go on eBay,
40 minutes | Sep 30, 2020
Building Relationships with Customers at Scale (E144)
Vincent PhamvanFounder of Vyten Career Coaching Notes: Polish vs AuthenticityAbout Me, should be about the customersStorybrand Framework, Don MillerWays to talking directly with customersCall customers directlyUse Instagram Live/StoriesEmail is KingSMS will increase in the futurePaul Graham - "Do things that don't scale"Accelerate your learning"Get bigger without your customers feeling like you got bigger" Sponsors: Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code!Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software Links: https://www.vyten.com/https://www.linkedin.com/in/vphamvan/https://www.linkedin.com/company/vyten/https://www.instagram.com/vytenprep/https://twitter.com/vyten Transcript: Charles (00:00): On this episode of the Business of eCommerce, I talk with Vincent Phamvan, about building relationships with customers at scale. This is a business of eCommerce episode 144. Charles (00:19): Welcome to the business. E-Commerce the show that helps eCommerce retailers start launch and grow the eCommerce business. I'm here today with Vincent and we had talking about how to build relationships with customers at scale. And this episode, he has a quote from Paul Graham that I really love that I'm going to link in the show notes. He also gives a list of different ways. You should be talking directly with your customers to get better customer feedback. I think there's some great tips there in this episode. So I will link to those in the show notes, but let's get right into that episode. So Hey Vincent, how you doing today? Hey, I'm good, Charles. Thanks for having me. Yeah. Awesome. To have you on the show, I'm just chatting a bit on the kind of pre show here, but I want to kind of get right into it. Charles (01:04): So talking about building relationships with customers at scale, so quick, quickly, a little bit of background, you're the founder of a career coaching platform. That's right. What exactly is that? So career coaching is if I'm looking for a job, that sort of thing, I've kind of switching jobs and you kinda, your platform helps folks do this, that kind of at scale, basically. Yeah, absolutely. So we saw a digital membership to a program that's called Vitan and Vitan helps people grow in their careers. So, you know, the average corporate job posting today gets 250 applications or resumes for every single application. So it's normal for job seekers to be pretty frustrated with the process you think about you're competing. And right now, especially with the pandemic, you're competing with a lot more people. And so we provide support job search strategy from everything, from your job search all the way through to your next promotion. Vincent (01:55): After you get that job to help people find fulfilling careers and you know, a life that they really love. And it's been really interesting when you take the look at how the pandemic has really impacted how people learn online. You know, as you know, e-commerce has taken essentially a five-year jump from the previous trends with this pandemic and has really accelerated consumer shopping online, which is why, you know, building relationships online is different than you do face to face. You know, when you have a brick and mortar store, if you were opening up a store, you know, if you sell cooking gear, you can have cooking demos in your store and invite your customers to come in. You know, you think like the, the home Depot style workshops where families come in and, you know, the children are building a bird's nest in the store. Now the challenge ends up being, how do you do that online? And you know, the good news is you can scale that to a lot more people. Bad news is though is it's not as easy as just setting up a table in store and just having a bunch of people come in where that's a pretty simple strategy to do. Charles (03:00): Yeah. So it's almost like you need a playbook on scale on that. Right?
37 minutes | Sep 22, 2020
How to Find Manufacturers & Suppliers in Asia (E143)
Kevin UrrutiaFounder of Voy Media Notes: Worked with the TSA for approvalPicked from a catalogCost 150k for the moldsThe factory recommended other suppliersFounder factories via Alibaba, AliExpressHow to US port documents -> Panjiva Looking for high barrier to entry productsGet reviews from bloggers and influences Sponsors: Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code!Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of a business. E-Commerce I talk with Kevin Urrutia about how to find suppliers in Asia. This is the Business of eCommerce episode 143. Charles (00:17): Welcome to the business of eCommerce the show that helps eCommerce retailers start launch and grow their eCommerce business. I'm always Charles Palleschi I'm here today with Kevin Urrutia. Kevin is the founder of Voy media. We just started several eCommerce companies, his most recent company producing luggage. We probably showed it chat about how he went through the process of finding suppliers in Asia to produce the luggage. Super interesting, just talking to Kevin about his whole background process and how we kind of thought through the process of getting this business started. It's very addressing, I think, helpful for anyone just starting off or even someone experienced right at the very end of the show, he also dropped some really helpful, helpful nuggets on what he would do if he was just starting off today. So I think it's well worth listening right to the end. Let's get into the show. Hey Kevin, how you doing today? Kevin (01:06): Hey, I'm doing good. How are you Charles (01:08): Great to have you on the show. I'm super interested in we're talking about earlier. So about finding suppliers in Asia. But I guess some of your background real quick. So we're talking in 2020. And what do you guys do? So, so luggage currently. Kevin (01:25): Yeah. So for tester, we are sound luggages online when we did, so that's a carry on probably the, one of the most proper sizes, but then we pop like maybe eight months ago we released like the other two sizes. The medium wanted to check one. But yeah, for like almost a good year and a half, we only sold the carry on because we didn't have any cash to make the other ones. Charles (01:44): So you actually, so you started what? A year and a half ago? Or how long has it been around? Kevin (01:49): Oh, now, yeah, like actual selling, but then we were in like product development. We're good. Like six months being up, like the products and stuff. Yeah. Charles (02:00): So when you say product development kind of let's go. So what, at what part did you actually, when you say product development, what part were you developing? What part are you talking to suppliers and like, how did this whole process happened? Kevin (02:10): Yeah, so for the, for the chest of luggage, so this is my second e-commerce company for Chester. Everything on the luggage is actually custom made a supplier that we've worked with, which is great because obviously you probably know e-commerce like, you can say, Hey, like, this is one thing that I'd like to kind of funny. We're like, Hey, we want to make a of agent. And they're like, okay, like, can you make that look just like this corn company? And they're like, nah, like we don't work like that. And we're like, no, cause like we're so used to that. Right? Like you see that align well with them. They wanted us to pretty much pick everything like, and that was pretty exciting and also scary because we'd never done it. But like, I kinda liked that. So we were able to pick the wheels, they send us like a catalog. Kevin (02:48): You find out like a catalog of like wheels, shells interior, interior lining, and then colors. And then we have to just design the whole shape of it. And then they need to be like AutoCAD for that. So then my brother is actually art.
5 minutes | Sep 10, 2020
Mixed Vendor Dropshipping (E142)
Sponsors: Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code!Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software Transcript: Charles (00:00): In this episode of the Business of eCommerce I talk about mixed vendor drop shipping. This is a business of eCommerce episode, 142. Charles (00:17): Welcome to the business of eCommerce. The show that helps eCommerce retailers start launch and grow a eCommerce business. I'm your host, Charles Palleschi. And I'm going to tell you about mixed vendor drop shipping. What we'll cover in this episode is how to use Mixpanel drop shipping, to beat out your competition in both product, selection and price at the same time. So let's get into us. Today's episode is sponsored by drip, drip. It's a world's first e-commerce CRM and a tool that I personally use for email marketing and automation. Now, if you are running an eCommerce store, you need to have drip a try. And here's why drip offers one-click integrations for both Shopify and Magento. There's robust segmentation, personalization, and revenue dashboards. To give you an overview of how your automation emails are performing. One of my favorite features of drip is the visual workflow builder. Charles (01:05): It gives you a super easy way to build out your automation world visually and see the entire process. It lets you get started quickly, but also build very complex automation roles. It's powerful, but also to learn, unlike a lot of email tools that offer the same type of automation to get a demo of drip today, you can go head over to drip.com/boe that's drift.com/b O E. Now onto the show. Often when I'm talking to retailers, they kind of go one of two ways when it comes to drop shipping, they're either working with very large established distributors that have a large breadth of products, or they're working with smaller mom and pop type manufacturers, even just very, very small run tech manufacturers. And that's kind of their decision on how to source products, right? And often it's, you know, one of the other AOV mixed vendor drop shipping is where you take the best of both worlds and combine them. Charles (02:06): So you have hair and I've seen some retailers do is very successfully. They work with large distributors. They're able to get a large breadth of products, right? So some of these largest submariners can have thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of products. So it allows them to scale up very horizontally and everything in their niche. They can go very wide, have a lot of auxiliary type products, right? So ways to kind of mock up their products cross sells upsells, that sort of thing. So it looks very well at the larger distributors. But when you start combining that with smaller manufacturers, this is kind of the Trek. You could find very rare products that maybe distributors don't yet carry don't yet know about not everyone has on their sites. And also sometimes you're able to then negotiate better on price with larger distributor. There's good chance unless you're doing any sort of real large volume, you really can't go in and negotiate that with them. Charles (03:05): But if you go some real small manufacturers, you might be able to get a lot better price. And even if you have a distributor kind of in the mix, you can cut out the middlemen on some of these products and go right to the manufacturer, talk to them. So you can get your breadth of products from the distributor, but then go deep on a very small subset of those products. So on those you can get better prices and also products that just maybe a half made to distributor when you're a retailer and you blend both of these on your site, what that gives you is these unique products you can kind of hook in uses with, right? You can put them in your ads, not everyone has seen them. So if you're targeting Facebook ads, for example, social ads, someone's going to see a product in your niche that has never been,